U.S. women name Jill Ellis head coach
Interim coach Jill Ellis is the new United States women's soccer coach, U.S. federation president Sunil Gulati announced Friday.
"Jill has been on the bench for more senior and youth women's national team matches than perhaps any coach in United States history," Gulati said. "She has worked at this for many years and has tremendous knowledge of our player pool and the qualities of multiple generations of players.
"We are confident she is the best person to find the right combinations on the field to make us successful in World Cup qualifying and beyond. She has experienced firsthand the growth of women's soccer worldwide and is uniquely positioned to lead our team to an even higher level."
The team had been without a permanent coach since Tom Sermanni was fired April 6 after the Americans managed just a draw and two defeats at the Algarve Cup in March.
Ellis took over as interim coach and led the team to a 3-0 win over China four days later. In her only other game in charge, the U.S. and Canada drew 1-1 last week in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Ellis, 47, who spent 12 years as the coach at UCLA, was an assistant under Pia Sundhage at the 2008 Olympics. She also has led the American under-21 and under-20 teams and served as development director.
She said she knows little less than winning the World Cup with the U.S. will be acceptable.
"I know the expectation, I embrace the expectation, know that we want to win, and I think this group is capable of winning," Ellis told ESPN. "That is what we want. It is always the expectation."
Ellis took herself out of the running for the top U.S. job the last time it was open, when Sundhage left to take over Sweden in 2012.
"I think partly it was a personal and timing issue for me," Ellis said. "I've been involved with Pia in '08 and worked for US Soccer since then. For me, it was just having done double duty in two roles for a long time ... I didn't think the timing was right for me. Since then, obviously, I've obviously moved and my personal life is a little different.
"I just recognize this is a unique opportunity. It just felt right. My energy is there and obviously the excitement of moving forward with this group is a huge honor."
Ellis' first matches as the official coach will come June 14 and June 19 against fourth-ranked France in Tampa, Florida, and East Hartford, Connecticut, respectively. Her first major tournament will be the eight-team CONCACAF qualifying in October, which the United States will host, for the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
She said her familiarity with the team will be a major asset while working toward the World Cup.
"I have a really good feel for the players," Ellis said. "They are in a good environment right now. The focus for me will be about starting to establish the starting core, and start to build a relationship to get ready for the qualifiers."