October 5, 2012
By Michael Lewis
IN THE INTERIM
Ellis to guide U.S. women during search for permanent coach
Jill Ellis, the development director for the U.S. Women's National Teams, will coach the women's national side on an interim basis while the organization searches for a successor to Pia Sundhage.
Ellis will direct the team for at least two games -- the next two matches of the Fan Tribute Tour vs Germany in Bridgeview, Ill. on Oct. 20 and in East Hartford, Conn. on Oct. 23.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said the federation hopes to find a new coach by the end of the month.
“Ideally, by the end of the month, but if it goes into November, that’s not a problem. We certainly would want a new coach on board in terms of being with the team when they have their first get-together after the first of the year," he said in a conference call with some members of the news media. "I can’t tell you when that would be because the coach would be part of that decision-making process."
However, Ellis is not a candidate to become permanent coach of the team.
“Jill essentially took herself out of the running to be the permanent coach a month or so ago when we started this process," Gulati said. "She is coaching these games and the team on an interim basis because she’s been an assistant coach, is a terrific part of our staff and is on a full-time contract with U.S. Soccer."
Professional, international and college coaches are among the candidates, Gulati said.
"If we've got the opportunity to hire an American coach, we're going to do that if we think that's the best choice for the program," he said. "Clearly an American coach brings a number of things that an international coach is unlikely to have: knowledge of the American game, knowledge of the American university system, knowledge of our youth programs, all of those things."
Sundhage, who directed the U.S. to a pair of gold medals (2004 and 2008) and to a second-place finish at the 2011 Women's World Cup, was the first foreign national coach in the program's history, following in the footsteps of Americans Michael Ryan, Anson Dorrance, Tony DiCicco, April Heinrichs and Greg Ryan.
"An international coach may bring a different perspective and be able to add things that an American coach doesn't have," Gulati said. "But especially on the women's side, where we have a long history of success being at the top, if we can hire an American coach then that would be a great thing. Are we going to do that if we don't think the best coach to lead the team and give us the best chance of repeating our gold-medal success is not an American coach? The answer is no. But would that be the ideal situation? Absolutely."
Gulati said that Heinrichs, who is the U.S. women's technical director, was not a candidate.
“April is quite happy and satisfied and we are certainly satisfied and happy with her continuing to serve as the technical director, so she’s not currently a candidate,” Gulati said.