Vlatko  Andonovski: “Some players, some staff members need someone that you need to talk to, some people need time, some people need space, some people need to process all of this and some need distraction.” (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

The much-anticipated international friendly with England at Wembley Stadium looms only a handful days away, but U.S. women’s national team head coach is allowing his players to do whatever they want to do, in wake of the scathing report about verbal abuse and sexual misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League.

“It is difficult,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not easy. It’s not easy for the players. It’s not easy for the staff. We’re all impacted in different ways. We all deal with this in different ways as well.

“Some players, some staff members need someone that you need to talk to, some people need time, some people need space, some people need to process all of this and some need distraction. That’s why we as a staff, allow the players to just think and process and do basically whatever they need in order to get over this difficult time.

“If that if that means that they don’t want to participate in a meeting or they don’t want to participate in training or even they don’t want to play the game, it is up to them because this is more than a game. This is more than training more than more than a meeting.”

On Monday, a report and private investigation by Sally Yates and King & Spalding was revealed to the public, which found that abuse in the NWSL was systemic, and that verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct occurred at multiple teams, was taken by several coaches and affected many players.

“It’s a very difficult night. Its a very difficult day,” Andonovski said during a media Zoom call. “It was a difficult day yesterday, Lots of emotions, different emotions. Personally, I’m saddened by the report and everything that we saw.”

Andonovski said he was “in disbelief.”

“I have emotional sickness and disgusted by the things that I saw in there. At the same time, I feel a lot of empathy for the players. I have tremendous respect for the bravery of the players who spoke out and the players who participated in this report.

“Soccer is is a game we all love, and it should be a safe space no matter what level this this game is at. Now that this report is out and these recommendations are given, it’s our job to do our parts to make sure that no one has to deal with this ever at any level in our sport or any sport.”

Andonovski guided FC Kansas City in the NWSL prior to becoming USWNT head coach.

“Obviously, that just didn’t start in NWSL and did not end in NWSL,” he said. “This started long before NWSL, long before any professional league and it’s rooted in into this game.”

This appalling conduct has roots in the youth game.

“I applaud the bravery of these players,” Andonovski said of those who came forth to talk about abuse in the investigation. “They did this not to protect themselves because we failed protecting them. They’re doing this so we can protect the next generation and the players outside of NWSL, the college players, the 15 years old and the 12 years old.

“They did this for everybody else that wants to play the game that they love. I just hope that that people will look at this report and see the pattern see the trends in our institutions in other sports and use this service in a proper manner so they can stop any sort of abuse or harassment.”