After five years and two consecutive World Cup wins, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis, 52, is taking her leave once the Victory Tour ends in October. She’s the eighth head coach in the team’s history.
Will this be the end of a championship legacy or will this motivate the team to take it to the next level? What could be the next level?
Whoever takes over has to live up to her outstanding record. She’s coached the most games in USWNT history. She has under her belt, 102 wins, two World Cup titles (2015 and 2019). She’s won eight tournaments. Of the 79 players to take part in at least one training camp, 56 earned at least a cap. In addition 28 players were given their first caps.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) July 30, 2019
This past World Cup in France saw the USWNT win all seven games.
With such success, and the 2020 Olympic qualifiers starting in January, what’s her reason for leaving? The timing is personal and the right move, she says:
“When I accepted the head coaching position this was the timeframe I envisioned…The timing is right to move on and the program is positioned to remain at the pinnacle of women’s soccer. Change is something I have always embraced in my life and for me and my family this is the right moment.”
She had her moment and now it’s time to give another coach a chance.
At the press conference, Ellis said:
“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them.
She went on to thank the Federation, coaches, and staff that she’d had the opportunity to work with.
Still, there are those that are satisfied seeing her go. USWNT did not win SheBelieves Cup, its own tournament played on U.S. soil.
Ellis has been a lucky coach at times when the USWNT have struggled, but when individual talent on the pitch and depth on the bench kept the team in the game. Some of her decisions and ideas were questionable during the USWNT experimentation periods, such as last year’s Tournament of Nations, when she often had that talent playing out of position and seemed to not be able to figure out an attacking midfield. For example, in SheBelieves Cup 2019, she started Mallory Pugh rather than accounting for Lindsey Horan’s absence. Pugh is very talented, but she was played as a center mid when most of her career she’s played as a winger or a striker. Defensive midfielder, Julie Ertz, was dropped into the backline which forced Pugh and Rose Lavelle to play as a two-woman center when Lavelle is best played as the 10 position.
So, what happens next?
Through next year, Ellis will continue her role with U.S. Soccer as an Ambassador representing the Federation at various events and speaking engagements.
A new WNT General Manager needs to be hired first and then the process for hiring a new USWNT head coach can begin.
Either way, comparing the USWNT to USMNT needs to stop, especially in regards to the coach hunt. First of all, it’s no contest as to which side is more successful. That said, let’s give the new coach a chance and like any change, give it some time and adjustment to get into the groove again. Besides, that same player talent will be on the field and USWNT have always stepped up to the challenge.
For fans, we can be thankful for pushing the USWNT this far and claiming the title of World Champions once again. We hope her future endeavors are as successful as her journey with the USWNT.