After a report surfaced that Jill Ellis would be named the full-time head coach of the USWNT, the United States Soccer Federation confirmed the appointment via Instagram. Ellis has been the interim coach since Tom Sermanni was surprisingly let go on Apr. 6. There were other candidates for the job in what would be a short search process, but perhaps the biggest reason Ellis got the job was player support.
The sentiment coming out after the announcement is that Ellis is the right person to find the right combination on the field and will easily build team chemistry. Ellis will now have five months to show those words are true. Qualifying for the World Cup will begin at the end of that time frame, and the pressure is on the USWNT to win the trophy in Canada.
The appointment of Ellis contrasts the speculative reasons why Sermanni was dismissed. He tried to modernize the team by bringing in many younger players and experimenting with different formations. There was said to be a clash between the veteran players’ ideals and Sermanni’s philosophy. Still his firing came as a surprise.
Ellis has had the support of players since she was given the interim tag for the second time. Sydney Leroux said she was well respected and awesome. Hope Solo has repeatedly supported Ellis as she said:
“We’re comfortable with Jill, we love Jill, we have a lot of respect for Jill and she didn’t really miss a beat (in her first game in charge last month against China). I’m always honored to be coached by Jill. Every time she has something to say I think we’ll perk up and really listen.”
Ellis has a long history with the program and was always the leading candidate. She has gone 6-0-3 as interim coach. Now her first match as head coach will take place in mid-June in a friendly against France. Ellis got the job over Tyresö coach Tony Gustavsson as well as Tony DiCicco, who guided the team to their last World Cup title in 1999.
Ellis is now charged to lead the USWNT to the top of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. She will not have the same scrutiny as Sermanni with the players’ backing and a focus on qualifying. It is an odd stage to be on after Sermanni was fired so abruptly, but it is one in which Ellis must shine.