United States Women's National Team coach Vlatko Andonovski responded to criticism from former USWNT player turned broadcaster Carli Lloyd after the current team celebrated a 0-0 draw with Portugal Monday (July 31) to advance in the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.
"The one thing I want to say is that this team wanted to win this game more than anything else," Andonovski said via ESPN. "They've put everything they could in preparation for this tournament and every game that they go into, so to question the mentality of this team, to question the willingness to win, to compete, I think it's insane.
Lloyd, who retired in 2021 after 16 years on the USWNT, has been contributing as an English-language broadcaster for FOX Sports' coverage of the ongoing tournament and previously expressed criticism about what she perceives as a team moving away from focusing on winning, specifically players "smiling" and "dancing" after surviving a 0-0 draw to advance to the Round of 16.
“I have never witnessed … and just seeing these images for the first time right now on the desk, I have never witnessed something like that,” Lloyd said. “There’s a difference between being respectful of the fans and saying hello to your family. But to be dancing, smiling? I mean, the player of the match was that post. You are lucky to not be going home right now.”
The USWNT has won a record four FIFA Women's World Cup championships, including each of the last two tournaments, but has been limited to just one victory and four goals in three Group E matches, barely avoiding being eliminated in the group stage for the first time in history.
"It's not the result we wanted, but we move forward," said USWNT Alex Morgan via ESPN.
Lloyd is one of the most decorated players in U.S. Women's Soccer history, having won two World Cups (2015, 2019), two Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012) and being named FIFA Player of the Year twice (2015, 2016).