Jill Ellis, head coach of the USWNT, celebrating the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup final win against the Netherlands on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France.
With two FIFA Women’s World Cup championships in the books, Jill Ellis is stepping down as manager of the U.S. women’s national soccer team — but not before a victory tour.
Ellis, who earlier this month became the first coach to win two Women’s World Cups, will end her five-year run with the team in early October, she announced Tuesday.
“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said in a statement. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them.”
According to ESPN, Ellis and U.S. Soccer had an option of extending her contract through next summer’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but she decided to step down now in part because she wants to be closer to her daughter, who is entering high school. Ellis will remain with U.S. Soccer for at least another year as an ambassador.
Ellis, 52, took over the national team in May 2014, and a little more than a year later she led the team to victory at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. That marked the third time the U.S. had won the tournament, which began in 1991, and the first time since the iconic 1999 championship on home soil.
Over her tenure Ellis has coached 127 games, winning 102 of them, and guided the U.S. to victory in eight tournaments.
One of the few blemishes during her time in charge was in 2016, when the U.S. fell to Sweden in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. That marked the worst finish for the U.S. team in a major tournament.
Ellis responded by adjusting the U.S. tactics, and the revamped U.S. team went to on to record a 28-game unbeaten streak that ran from July 2017 to January 2019. The bigger payoff came later that summer, when the team beat the Netherlands in Lyon, France, to win its second consecutive World Cup.
“The U.S. Soccer Federation and the sport in general owes Jill a debt of gratitude,” said U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro said in a statement. “Jill was always extremely passionate about this team, analytical, tremendously focused and not afraid to make tough decisions while giving her players the freedom to play to their strengths. She helped raise the bar for women’s soccer in the USA and the world, and given the history of this program, the level of success she achieved is even more remarkable.”
The USWNT kicks off its victory tour Saturday, when it hosts Ireland at the Rose Bowl in Southern California, and then will host Portugal on Aug. 29 in Philadelphia and Sept. 3 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Additional games are set to be added for Oct. 3 and 6, though locations and opponents have not yet been announced.