According to a report from the Equalizer, USWNT manager Jill Ellis will not return to coach the two-time defending World Cup champions for any more competitive games. Ellis’s contract expires on Wednesday, July 31, and though she and the U.S. Soccer Federation had a mutual option to extend it through the Tokyo Olympics, Ellis reportedly chose to call it a day. She will lead the team through a slate of five friendlies and then formally step down in October.
Ellis has been the USWNT coach since 2014, and she’s led the team to back-to-back World Cup titles during her reign, becoming the only woman ever to do so. She won 102 of her 127 games, which is the most ever for a USWNT coach. The USSF will also reportedly name a new GM for the women’s program soon, and while the Equalizer did not report who that will be, a person has already been chosen and they will have the power to pick the next coach.
The Washington Post also reported that Ellis told her players last week, and that top assistant Tony Gustavsson has returned home to Sweden and will not pursue the gig.
One year after Ellis’s team won the 2015 World Cup, the U.S. crashed out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals. The team’s poor performance in that tournament snowballed into a chaotic 2017 for the program, and players were reportedly so fed up with Ellis’s performance that they went to then-USSF president Sunil Gulati to voice “deep concerns” with Ellis. Gulati backed Ellis amid a phase of lineup experimentation and unrest, and the program stabilized just in time to romp through the 2019 World Cup.
Ellis was at times concerningly conservative and uncreative with her management style, and it has long felt like the team won in spite of Ellis rather than because of her. Nevertheless, Ellis won and won big, and for that she deserves all American soccer fans’ gratitude.