Los Angeles Soccer: college soccer
October, 22, 2010
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Icon SMI, Getty Images
USC coach Ali Khosroshahin, right, says UCLA coach Jill Ellis, left, has an unfair advantage by being able to coach players in the national team system.
Expect fireworks when USC’s and UCLA’s women’s soccer teams renew their feud Friday night at the Coliseum -- and not only because it’s USC and UCLA.
USC coach Ali Khosroshahin, who guided the Women of Troy to the NCAA title in his first season in charge, has decried the “competitive advantage” he says his UCLA counterpart, Jill Ellis, enjoys through her association with the U.S. national teams program.
“It needs to be said,” Khosroshahin said on the eve of this campaign, in which his team is 8-4-3 (1-2-1 in the Pac-10) and has been in and out of the national rankings. “Everyone talks about it, but no one’s willing to come out and say it. I’m willing to say it now.”
And Ellis, who has taken the Bruins to seven successive College Cup final fours and eight in 10 years, isn’t completely dismissive of Khosroshahin’s allegations. But the force of his comments naturally bothers her, and it will be interesting to see how civil is their pre- or postgame handshake.
Khosroshahin said he was unhappy with the direction of the U.S. national teams program, with which Ellis has been associated since 2000, and that her 19-month tenure as head coach of the U.S. under-20 women’s national team -- and ongoing position as an assistant to full U.S. women’s national team coach Pia Sundhage -- has afforded her time with elite UCLA players during times the NCAA doesn’t allow coaches contact with their players.
NCAA provisions allow national team coaches to work with their players at these times -- primarily during the summer -- within the national team programs. Ellis’ team that reached the quarterfinals, a disappointing finish, at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany included three UCLA players: junior forward Sydney Leroux, sophomore midfielder Zakiya Bywaters and freshman midfielder Jenna Richmond.