US Soccer announced Tuesday that Jill Ellis will be stepping away from coaching the US Women’s National Team (USWNT), with the official end of her tenure coming in October.
Ellis oversaw an incredibly successful period for the USWNT, including back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019.
Ellis Raised an Already High Bar
During her tenure, Ellis coached the team to a record of 102 wins, seven losses, and 18 draws. Her final competitive match came this summer, when the United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the final of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said in a statement from US Soccer. “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.”
The 52-year-old Ellis is expected to stay on with US Soccer for at least an additional year in an ambassador role, in which she will represent the United States at events and speaking engagements.
Along with the World Cup titles, Ellis also led the team to eight other tournament victories, including two wins in the SheBelieves Cup, a 2015 Algrave Cup title, and a win in the 2018 Tournament of Nations.
According to US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, Ellis took an already successful USWNT to new heights during her reign.
“Jill was always extremely passionate about this team, analytical, tremendously focused and not afraid to make tough decisions while giving her players the freedom to play to their strengths,” Cordeiro said in a statement. “She helped raise the bar for women’s soccer in the USA and the world, and given the history of this program, the level of success she achieved is even more remarkable.”
Solo, Others Critical of Ellis’ Tenure
But despite her success, Ellis wasn’t always beloved by her players. A group of veterans on the team tried unsuccessfully to get then-US Soccer president Sunil Gulati to remove Ellis from her position in 2017. Former goalkeeper Hope Solo has been a particularly outspoken critic, saying before and during the recent Women’s World Cup that the US women won in spite of Ellis, not because of her leadership.
Ellis’ decision to exit as coach now leaves the United States without a manager for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. That will be a major tournament for the USWNT, both because they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Sweden in 2016, and because no women’s team has yet to win the Olympics immediately after winning the World Cup. While odds are not yet available, a full strength American team would likely be the favorite to take home gold in Japan.
US Soccer is planning to soon announce the name of the first ever general manager for the USWNT, though no specific timeline has been given for when that name will be revealed to the public. Once that occurs, an official search for a new team coach will begin.