Jill Ellis hired as new USWNT manager

Kent Horner

U.S. Soccer opts to go with someone very familiar with the program after reported cultural differences derailed Tom Sermanni's short tenure.

Jill Ellis has long found herself on the short list of potential United States women's national team managers. Now, she gets to see how it will work out with her being named the eighth manager in the program's history on Friday. She was already serving as the interim manager, a role she filled for several months prior to Tom Sermanni's hiring.

"We're very excited that Jill has agreed to take the team through the [2015] World Cup and beyond," USSF President Sunil Gulati said during a conference call. "We have someone who knows the program, who has been extraordinarily successful, has coached the team very recently with success and are very confident in her ability to lead the team forward."

In Ellis, the USWNT has someone with whom they are very familiar. Ellis has been involved in some capacity with U.S. Soccer for over a decade, was an assistant under Pia Sundhage for a couple years and ultimately moved into a role in the developmental program. She was also considered for the manager position during the last search, but she pulled out for personal reasons.

Those reasons are no longer an issue, apparently.

"Partly it was a personal and timing issue," Ellis said. "I had been involved with Pia in '08 and really worked for U.S. Soccer since then. For me, having done double duty [she was the UCLA head coach until 2010] for a long time and then focusing on my youth role, I didn't think the timing was right. I just recognize that this is a unique opportunity and it felt right. My energy is there and the excitement of moving forward is a huge honor."

Due to that long tenure with the U.S. Soccer, Ellis is as familiar with the player pool as virtually any other candidate, of which Gulati confirmed there were only two others during this search. Ellis has actually coached all but two players in the current pool.

That familiarity should go over well, especially in the wake of Sermanni's firing, which was generally chalked up to culture clashes within the program.

"I could very readily say to the players that these are areas we need to continue to refine in order to be successful and really knowing their strengths," Ellis said. "The mentality piece will be important, too."

As comfortable as everyone may be with the hiring, Ellis will ultimately be judged by medals. Although the USWNT won two Olympic golds during Sundhage's tenure, the last time they won the World Cup was back in 1999. The quest to change starts now.

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