He will disappoint some players who, almost anywhere else, would be the biggest talent on the national team.
The roster outlook gained clarity through Andonovski’s personnel decisions in three friendlies over the past week, culminating with a 2-0 victory against Nigeria on Wednesday in Austin.
Those on the bubble who did not play much or at all surely saw their hopes expire. Those offering versatility watched their prospects rise.
Most tickets to Japan have been assigned to familiar names: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, among others.
There are wrinkles, however.
Tobin Heath and Julie Ertz, starters for the past two World Cup championships, missed the tuneups against Portugal, Jamaica and Nigeria because of injuries.
Heath, a Manchester United forward, has not played since December but joined the U.S. squad for training camp this month. “Very happy with everything we see from her,” Andonovski said of Heath. Ertz, a defensive midfielder, remained behind.
Andonovski has said repeatedly that he expects both to be ready for the Olympics. In that case, barring setbacks, 15 of the 18 places seem locked up.
With the remaining spots, he will consider experience vs. development, leaning on additional veterans or integrating youth as the 2023 World Cup approaches. Seven regulars are 30 or older.
More importantly, with a small roster and a brutal schedule, he will need the flexibility to change the lineup with each game and shuffle players between positions. To reach the gold medal match, the Americans will have to navigate five games in 13 days. (Players are conditioned to playing three or four times in such a span.)
Andonovski also will line up four alternates who will travel to Japan and, should the IOC expand rosters, become prime candidates for active duty.
Here’s a positional breakdown as the roster announcement nears:
Goalkeepers: Alyssa Naeher, the 2019 World Cup starter, is atop the depth chart, and no one else is close.
Andonovski has spent eight months figuring out the backup, but he seems to have his answer. Adrianna Franch, a 2019 World Cup reserve, started the middle match of the recent three-game set, while Jane Campbell didn’t play.
Defenders: The four established starters — Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper and Kelley O’Hara — have nothing to worry about.
Versatility will loom large with two probable additions. Emily Sonnett can play left and right back, and for the last 28 minutes Wednesday, she was a defensive midfielder.
Tierna Davidson can play on the left or in the middle of the back line. And then there is Margaret Purce, a Silver Spring, Md., native who, against Jamaica on Sunday, was the right-side forward in the first half and right back in the second.
Midfielders: Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle are locks. Assuming she is healthy, Ertz is in.
Catarina Macario, 21, is a rising star for French power Olympique Lyonnais, but she has failed to make a major impression this year.
Kristie Mewis, Sam’s older sister, has revived her national team career in the past year and started Wednesday in place of Lavelle, who had a minor ankle injury. The only hope for Washington Spirit captain Andi Sullivan, a defensive midfielder from Lorton, Va., would be Ertz being ruled out.
Forwards: There is little doubt about Rapinoe, Morgan, Christen Press or Carli Lloyd, who, a month short of her 39th birthday, has shown she has still got it. She started the past two friendlies, scored once and performed with the hunger of a 21-year-old prospect.
With Heath projected to make the squad, Lynn Williams, a speedster who scored a late goal Wednesday, and Sophia Smith, 20, will probably miss out.
“I feel like we have very good knowledge of the players and lots of data for the last year and a half” since he was appointed coach, Andonovski said. “When the decision time comes, I believe we are going to make the right [ones] for this team.”
For the players, the wait will end soon.
“People will be getting phone calls — some of it will be good, and some will be tough, but that’s the way of the program and the Olympic selection,” said Sauerbrunn, the captain.
She added: “We have got an amazing team. I obviously don’t know what the Olympic roster will be, but there is no doubt in my mind we will have a team that can win everything.”
Read more on soccer: