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Volume 27 No. 8
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USWNT Coach Jill Ellis Stepping Down After Victory Tour This Fall

USWNT coach Jill Ellis, who helped lead the team to two consecutive World Cup titles, will "step down as head coach" after the club's five-game victory tour, according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Ellis' contract expires today, and although the U.S. Soccer Federation held an option to retain her through the '20 Tokyo Games, Ellis said that she "felt it was time to move on and pursue other opportunities." For the time being, Ellis will "continue to work for the USSF as an ambassador, representing the governing body at events and speaking engagements." Her replacement, or an interim coach, will "start in November with two friendlies." The search for a new coach "will not accelerate" until the federation hires a GM for the team. Sources said that that decision is "close." A source said that Ellis "told the players of her decision this week." However, as early as last winter, Ellis said that she "began thinking about stepping down after the World Cup" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/31). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman noted Ellis, who was born in England, "might explore other national team options or perhaps coach a European club" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/31).

FRONT OFFICE SHAKEUP: In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald cites a source as saying that the USSF "has its candidate chosen" for a GM, but the deal "might not be done yet" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/31). PRO SOCCER USA's Pardeep Cattry noted Ellis spoke to USSF President Carlos Cordeiro about "offering her full support to whoever is hired as her successor." Ellis has "spoken before about the lack of opportunities for female coaches in soccer." She said yesterday that she would "like her successor to be a woman." Ellis "believes the same for the role of the general manager" (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 7/30). The AP's Anne Peterson notes the next GM "will lead the search for a new coach" (AP, 7/31).

LEADER AMONG WOMEN: In N.Y., Andrew Das notes Ellis' five-year tenure "coincided with a tumultuous time for the women's program, which fought with FIFA over artificial turf fields" before the '15 Women's World Cup; "endured public criticism after national anthem protests" by F Megan Rapinoe; and engaged in a multiyear battle with USSF over pay equity. Ellis "navigated it all with the same approach that made her an effective coach." She "stayed out of the fray, expressing support for her players at all times while avoiding antagonizing her bosses at the federation." Ellis said that she "still would have decided to walk away -- 'probably' -- even if the Americans had not won in France" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/31). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel noted Ellis "was not always popular with her players." She was not "particularly charismatic with fans or media," but she was "ruthlessly effective." Wetzel: "Managing great players amid all-or-bust expectations is not simple. There's a reason the U.S. had never before won consecutive World Cups, let alone dominated the FIFA world rankings as they have" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/30).