Not good enough, Vlatko! USWNT winners and losers as Andonovski's decisions doom defending World Cup champions in frustrating Netherlands draw

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The U.S. boss didn't set his team up to succeed and then left them out to dry in a game that was dying for a change

Heading into the World Cup, the United States women's national team had more question marks than ever before. How would they cope with an obvious lack of depth at center-back? Would they ever find an answer at the No.6 position? Could the team's young stars step up to the moment in their first real opportunity on a stage this big?

As it turns out, though, their draw with the Netherlands showed that the USWNT's biggest question mark may just be their coach. Despite escaping with a point, this 1-1 draw showed that, if the USWNT are to win this World Cup, they're more likely to do it in spite of Vlatko Andonovski, rather than because of him.

This is a long tournament, of course, and Andonovski, like his players, will learn from this. Still, this is a game that will feel both like a lucky result and a missed opportunity for a number of reasons.

Few players will leave this one feeling good, especially given how the game played out, but Andonovski, in particular, will now know that he'll have to do something different if the U.S. are to really make a run this summer.

GOAL has you covered with the winners and losers from the USWNT's draw with the Netherlands...

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  1. LOSER: Vlatko Andonovski

    LOSER: Vlatko Andonovski

    This was a mess from a coaching perspective. Where do we even begin? It makes sense to start with the line up, in theory. Andonovski went with an unchanged XI, rolling out the same starters that cruised past Vietnam last game. Risky, but understandable, despite the fact that there were some obvious rotations to be made if he wanted to.

    We can excuse the optimism, even if it was shut down very quickly. The USWNT looked like a team totally unprepared to face the Netherlands' three-at-the-back system. Whenever the Dutch center-backs stepped up, the U.S. looked clueless, allowing passes to break all of the lines and totally bypass the midfield.

    That, we can also excuse. A coach won't always get the XI right, and Andonovski definitely didn't, but you do get the benefit of substitutions, right? Well, Andonovski only made one. In a World Cup game. With the deepest team in the world.

    His one sub, Rose Lavelle, was spot on, but the decision to not make a single other change is baffling, to say the least. Early in the second half, this game was dying for a player to help the U.S. establish control. Later, it was dying for a player with the ability to steal a winner. Instead, Andonovski let several gassed players run around aimlessly in the name of continuity. No Lynn Williams, no Alyssa Thompson, no Megan Rapinoe... nothing.

    It's something you simply can't do at this level. Rest is at a premium, and the USWNT has an advantage over just about every team when it comes to depth. Why, then, would Andonovski not roll the dice when the U.S. was so obviously not getting what they wanted out of the game?

    The USWNT survived it this time, only just. It wasn't due to some change in tactics or game-changing coaching decision. No, it was due to the fact that Lindsey Horan got angry and dunked on the Netherlands out of revenge. It was frustration, not coaching, that got the U.S. out of this mess.

    For years, Andonovski has, perhaps unfairly, been criticized for many of this team's shortcomings. The USWNT has never quite been a dominant force under his leadership, and that isn't totally his fault. Injuries have played a part, for sure, as have some irregularities in the player pool. You can't control everything.

    What you can control is something as simple as substitutions. Andonovski didn't. It's a mistake that went relatively unpunished, thankfully for the USWNT, who simply can't get away with this type of coaching against the best teams in the world

  2. WINNER: Lindsey Horan

    WINNER: Lindsey Horan

    As it turns out, Horan called her shot. "You get trash talk every single day from Dan van de Donk," she told GOAL just before the World Cup, "and once we play them, you'll see it. She'll be coming for my ankles like every single play so watch out for that. That will be fun!" Prophetic, huh?

    Horan was right all along, unfortunately for Van de Donk, who woke up her Lyon team-mate in a big way. After a collision between the two and some obvious frustration from Horan, the USWNT captain stepped up with a huge header just moments later, turning her anger into a game-tying goal.

    It was the type of moment you'd expect from a captain. She had her difficulties in the first half, for sure, but as the game wore on and frustration mounted, Horan turned it into the moment this team needed. Job well done for the USWNT captain. Who knows what she'll predict next?

  3. LOSER: Trinity Rodman
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    LOSER: Trinity Rodman

    Early on, Trinity Rodman was the USWNT's only bright spot. Her pace made her dangerous and she nearly got a goal seconds after the USWNT conceded. There was a pretty significant amount of time that it looked like the goal was most likely to come from something Rodman did.

    But you just have to look at the numbers to see that this wasn't the game the USWNT needed from Rodman. The young winger attempted 23 passes; she completed just 10 of them. That's 43 percent. She was also dispossessed six different times. So many attacks came to an end once the ball got to Rodman's feet. You simply can't give up the ball that often at this level.

    Now, Andonovski should have seen that and taken her off. She obviously faded as the game went on and, generally, a coach would have thrown on fresh legs for some fresh ideas in the attack. Instead, Rodman was left out to dry a bit.

    The bright spots should ensure her confidence doesn't dip too much. Rodman is a legitimate weapon, one that kept the Netherlands on the back foot right up until they scored. She'll have better games than this, for sure, and she'll learn from what was a very, very big lesson on the biggest stage.

  4. WINNER: Rose Lavelle

    WINNER: Rose Lavelle

    We all knew that Lavelle was important to this team, but this first half proved just how vital she is. The Netherlands cut through the USWNT midfield like Swiss cheese throughout the opening 45 minutes, completely dominating the American midfield three with ease. That is until Lavelle arrived to save the day.

    The balance totally shifted when the midfielder was tossed into the game as she replaced Savannah DeMelo, who may just have been the team's best midfielder in the opening half. Lavelle immediately got herself stuck in in what was a physical game, helping provide some fight back against the tide.

    Her assist on Horan's goal, meanwhile, was fantastic, helping the U.S. salvage a point. Andonovski only made one sub on the day, and he did get that one right as Lavelle was the player to change this game.

    The question is what comes next. Is she healthy enough to finally go 90 against Portugal? The U.S. better hope so. They can't win this thing without her.

  5. LOSER: Andi Sullivan

    LOSER: Andi Sullivan

    For some time, the USWNT has been hoping for Sullivan to step up and be the presence this team needs in midfield. It hasn't happened. And that was never more clear than in this one, when Sullivan struggled mightily.

    She was one of a few at fault for conceding the goal, as her decision to step up and attempt a tackle totally left the defense exposed. From there, the USWNT was in scramble mode until Jill Roord picked out a corner to make it 1-0.

    It was just the latest evidence to show the fact that Sullivan probably isn't the answer this team needs in the No.6 position right now. She's been given plenty of chances but has never fully convinced, and we're well past the time for players to still be needing to convince.

    Julie Ertz is right there. It may be tough to take her away from the center-back position, but she's right there. Will she start back in midfield next game? We'll see, but the USWNT would probably be better off if she did take that spot from Sullivan going forward.