My Essentials: Vlatko Andonovski

Photo by John Todd/ISI photos

Small world—the head coach for the U.S. women’s national soccer team is a proud Kansas Citian. Vlatko Andonovski was born in Yugoslavia where he played for several European leagues. The famed Macedonian defender eventually found his way to Wichita to play for the (now-defunct) Wichita Wings before being signed to play for the Kansas City Comets and two other leagues in California and Philly.  

We caught up with Andonovski in Hartford, Connecticut, the weekend before relentless Olympic team practice on the field resumed. Andonovski says he’s been working hard behind the scenes getting everything squared away for this year’s 2021 Summer Olympics. “Presentations, analysis, individual work, group work, teamwork—everything has been on video, including game analysis,” he says. “We did as much as possible to prepare, so when we got back on the field, we weren’t starting at ground zero in the comeback process. I’m very excited to be back and get together with the team. We’re ready to go.

When asked his thoughts on Kansas City, Andonovski gushed considerably. With 20 years under his belt this year, to say he’s a fan of the city would be an understatement. “I don’t just like Kansas City, I love Kansas City. I love the city, the people, the communities. I love everything about the city,” he says. “I love how genuine everybody is. The fact I can go on a walking trail and people you come across say good morning or just smile, that makes me feel like we’re all the same, all together, and all friends. I love that.”

Vlatko’s essentials…

Break the Bank: Plaza’s Capital Grille would be a place where I’d splurge. I enjoy a good steak.

B to the B to the Q: If I have to go to one barbecue place, it would be Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. The fries at Joe’s are next level. Actually, I’d go for the brisket at Joe’s, the burnt ends at Q39, the pork ribs at Jack Stack, and Arthur Bryant’s for pulled pork.

Shhh! Hidden Gem: Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio. It’s a little grocery store (in KCK) that has five or six tables. They have butchers inside. Everything is prepared there—and it’s all so good. 

Up Early: Corner Café in Riverside is my go-to breakfast spot. I change up from time to time, but I order an omelet with mushroom and spinach. Their cinnamon rolls are huge. They put so much icing on top. It kills me. One cinnamon roll is family size—but I end up eating the whole thing. It’s as big as my head—and my kids love them too.

Homesick No More: I love the local experience at Bella Napoli. You go in and you feel like you know everyone. Westside Local is good. I love their appetizers and charcuterie boards. It reminds me of back home.”

Java Junkie: I go to Headrush Roasters, usually for an Americano and a scone. I love the surroundings and the balcony that overlooks downtown. A lot of us coaches go there to sit, meet, and talk. I also like Messenger Café. Their croissants are crazy good.

Guilty Pleasure: Every time I go to an Italian restaurant, I get tiramisu. I love good tiramisu. Jasper’s has the best.

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