Jill Ellis is stepping down as coach of the United States women’s national team, sources tell The Equalizer. She will remain with the team for its five-game World Cup victory tour, which kicks off on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, against Ireland.
The 52-year-old Ellis coached the U.S. to back-to-back World Cup titles, in 2015 and 2019, becoming the first woman to achieve the feat. Vittorio Pozzo, the only other coach to win consecutive World Cups, did so while in charge of Italy’s men’s national team for the 1934 and 1938 tournaments.
Ellis’ current contract expires on Wednesday. There was a mutual option to extend the contract through the 2020 Olympics. The decision to step down was Ellis’, according to those familiar with the situation.
Who will be the next coach of the U.S. women’s national team is yet unclear. The new general manager of the team will have hiring and firing power. That GM – a new role which was announced last year and was initially supposed to be filled in early 2019 – is expected to be named soon, with sources saying that the person for the role has already been selected.
Ellis has coached more games than any manager in U.S. women’s national team history. The Americans’ 2019 World Cup quarterfinal victory over France was Ellis’ 125th in charge, breaking a tie with April Heinrichs for most games coached in program history; Ellis has coached 127 games and won 102 of them, which is three short of Tony DiCicco’s record for victories.
Longtime U.S. assistant coach Tony Gustavsson, who was a finalist for the job when Ellis took over in 2014, has already departed the team.
The U.S. will also play Portugal on August 29 in Philadelphia and on Sept. 3 in St. Paul, Minnesota before rounding out the victory tour with a pair of games in early October. Friendly matches in November could be the first in charge for the next U.S. coach.
The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics begin in less than a year. The Americans, who still need to qualify, are aiming to become the first women’s team to win the World Cup and Olympics in consecutive years. They were eliminated by Sweden in penalty kicks of the Rio 2016 quarterfinals. Ellis had taken some risks with her 18-player Olympic roster – including bringing Megan Rapinoe, the 2019 Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner, who did not play a competitive minute in 2016 before the Olympics.
That Olympic failure prompted a major roster overhaul which saw Ellis try different systems – including the infamous three-back – as well as, eventually, 60 different players called up between the 2016 Olympics and 2019 World Cup. Such drastic turnover caused some unrest and a reported player revolt in the summer of 2017, but Ellis received the backing of then U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.
Ellis initially took over as interim head coach in April 2014, after Tom Sermanni was fired. She was appointed the team’s permanent head coach on May 16, 2014, and the following year guided the U.S. to its first World Cup title in 16 years.
Source: The Equalizer