To the victor goes the spoils and World Cup winning coach Jill Ellis got hers today in the form of a long-term deal to continue as coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
After two stints as interim coach, Ellis assumed full responsibility in April 2014 when U.S. Soccer fired Tom Sermanni. Ellis had worked as an assistant under Sermanni’s predecessor Pia Sundhage and was serving as the USSF Development Director when U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati tapped her for the job.
Ellis has compiled an impressive 29-2-9 record as U.S. WNT coach, but when the team started slowly in the World Cup after some poor pre-Cup play, doubts began to circulate regarding the long time assistants suitability for the head coaching job.
Despite topping its group in opening round play, desultory performances by the team failed to inspire, even as the U.S. advanced to the knockout rounds.
Teams like France and Germany were winning the accolades, but the Americans began to improve, if slightly, in a 2-0 Round of 16 win versus Colombia and a 1-0 victory over China in the quarterfinals.
With Germany waiting in the semifinals, Ellis’ squad finally kicked into gear. The Yanks did receive some help on a controversial penalty call, but the U.S. were the better team on the day, and for the first time in the tournament looked a legitimate threat to win the World Cup.
Several of Ellis’ tactical moves paid off as the U.S. went deeper into the tournament, with the decision to reduce Abby Wambach’s role, while freeing Carli Lloyd to attack proving key.
Perhaps Ellis could have made these moves earlier in the Cup, but when Lloyd led the U.S. to a 5-2 demolition of defending World Cup Champions Japan to give the U.S. its first World Cup title since 1999 Ellis was vindicated.
Terms of Ellis’ new deal have not been released, but Gulati seemed to signal that Ellis will be on board at least through the 2019 World Cup in France.
“When we hired Jill, we all knew the great challenge that was ahead of her and the team,” Gulati said in a statement. “She met that challenge with tremendous passion and knowledge to win what was perhaps the most difficult Women’s World Cup tournament in history. As we look towards the Rio Olympics (2016) and build towards the 2019 World Cup in France, we think Jill is the ideal person to lead the next generation of the women’s national team.”