The United States Soccer Federation named April Heinrichs as its technical director and Jill Ellis as its development director for the U.S. Women’s National Teams. The two will work together to oversee the development of youth women’s and girls’ national teams, which include the Under-20, U-18, U-17, U-15 and U-14 programs. There will also be some interaction with the senior women’s national team, though how much is unclear.
Although 2010 was a year in which several U.S. women’s teams – including the senior team – struggled, U.S.S.F. President Sunil Gulati said the creation of these two positions is not reactionary.
“These appointments aren’t a direct reaction to any particular results of the last year or anything else, whether it was our Under-17 or Under-20’s or the Women’s National Team not qualifying directly, but really just a recommitment to the Women’s National Team and girls’ programs player development side,” Gulati said. “It’s an on-going challenge and that’s what these appointments are going to do. I think we have two highly skilled, highly experienced – certainly motivated from talking with them – individuals.”
In 2010, the U.S. U-17 squad failed to qualify for the U-17 Women’s World Cup and the U.S. U-20 team – one expected to make the final – fell to Nigeria in just the quarterfinals. The senior U.S. Women’s National Team also fell out of CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying in the semifinals, forcing a two-leg playoff with Italy. The U.S. was the last team to qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
It is also possible that Heinrichs and Ellis may serve as U-17 and U-20 women’s teams in the short-term. Heinrichs served as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2000-2005. Ellis has previously served as head coach of the U-21 and U-20 women’s national teams on several occasions. She has spent the past 12 seasons as the head coach of UCLA but will leave that job effective immediately. B.J. Snow, who has been an assistant since 2006, will take over as head coach of UCLA.
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