Lost in the fallout of Tom Sermanni’s firing, the confusion over why it happened and the start of the new NWSL season was the first definitive stance from a U.S. women’s player on a possible replacement coach.
U.S. No. 1 goalkeeper Hope Solo backed Jill Ellis – the interim U.S. boss for the second time in less than two years – for the full-time job.
“I’m always honored to be coached by Jill,” Solo told Soccerly.com’s Scott French after the U.S.’ 3-0 win over China on Thursday. “Every time she has something to say, I think we perk up and really listen, so, yeah, I’d love to see her on board.”
U.S. players Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly told NBC Sports during Thursday’s telecast that the U.S. women need someboday familiar with them, their system and the U.S. player pool.
“This team just needs somebody to steer us in the right direction,” Lloyd said after scoring twice in the win.
O’Reilly had similar thoughts, suggesting that the talent is there already, and that a new coach would need to “blend this team — blend the old, blend the new.”
It will be hard to find anyone as familiar with the current team as Ellis, who has been an assistant coach and embarks on her second stint as interim coach, first bridging the gap between Pia Sundhage and Sermanni in late 2012. Ellis is now 6-0-2 as interim coach.
“We are very comfortable with Jill Ellis,” Solo said. “She’s been around the program for a lifetime. We love Jill, we have a lot of respect for Jill.”
Ellis pulled her name from contention for the U.S. job in the search process that ultimately yielded Sermanni 18 months ago. After Thursday’s game, Ellis wouldn’t commit to a level of interest in the full-time job.
“It’s been a crazy week, and I haven’t really had a chance to kind of reflect [on all that’s happening],” Ellis told French. “I think for me, just going home and taking 24 hours, 48 hours just to think about it and probably having a conversation with Dan [Flynn, U.S. Soccer’s CEO and secretary general] and Sunil [Gulati, U.S. Soccer’s president] and just figure out where I go from here.”
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