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Jill Ellis calls Casey Stoney firing ‘an inflection point’ for San Diego

The decision, she said, was based on data and the team’s recent run of poor form

San Diego Wave FC president Jill Ellis spoke with the media on Tuesday, addressing the team’s decision to part ways with head coach Casey Stoney just one day earlier. 

The decision, she said, was based on data and the team’s recent run of poor form. Currently, the Wave are on a seven-game winless streak and, Ellis says, “limiting our opportunities.”

“We’re an ambitious club,” Ellis told reporters on Tuesday. “We want to compete domestically and internationally. Right now, to qualify for the [Concacaf] Champions League, there’s three criteria: win the league, finish second in the league, or win the championship. Where we sit at the moment, we are limiting our opportunities.”

She also noted that it wasn’t solely based on the team’s record, but did highlight the fact that the team is 17 points out of first place over halfway through the season.

“It’s also about how it looks, how it feels, and for sure how it performs,” Ellis said. “And in sport, we don’t live in the past; it’s how we perform in the moment. And in this moment, we felt — again, it’s very hard. We needed an inflection point, so we made a very hard decision to change our head coach and begin a search for a new one.”

When asked if she had discussed the possibility of a coaching change with Stoney previously, Ellis simply said that Stoney is “self-aware” and took the news as “a part of the landscape of coaching.” Ellis also doesn’t anticipate Stoney being on the market long.

“I don’t think you have to have a conversation when it comes to know where they are, she knew,” Ellis said. “I think Casey knew results matter. Casey’s ambitious. And was she happy where we were? Of course not. … I think a coach also understands that sometimes this is the nature of the beast of coaching. It’s tough at times. You don’t go into coaching knowing that it’s a lifelong commitment. You go into it, give everything you have, try as hard as you can. And Casey’s going to get gobbled up by another team. I think she sort of took it in stride. This is part of the landscape of coaching.”

Stoney has yet to issue a statement, but she did respond to the Wave’s supporters group on social media on Tuesday.

“Today I’m broken but in time I will be proud of what we all achieved together!” she wrote, thanking the group for their support. “Cheer that’s players loud on Friday because that’s what they deserve.”

Previously, Stoney led the Wave to the Shield last year and the Challenge Cup in March. She was named the National Women’s Soccer League’s coach of the year in 2022. Currently, the club sits in ninth place in the league standings and one place out of the playoffs.

The change coming as the NWSL nears midseason is an interesting one, and Ellis said Tuesday it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

“I don’t think there’s ever a perfect time to make a decision to let someone go,” she said. “I have the utmost respect for Casey and the contribution she’s given to the club, and I think you read in our statement, we thanked her profusely for the foundation she’s laid here in San Diego.”


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The club had recently hired a new general manager, Camille Ashton, who left Kansas City in May. But Ellis said Tuesday that the decision was “made independent” of Ashton and that she “was not in conversations.”

Ellis said she first spoke with Stoney before informing her staff. From there, a meeting was set up with players to inform them of the change. She said that she told players that “there’s talent in this room and I think we can be better than where we are currently.”

As for the search for the club’s next head coach, Ellis said that her inbox is “already full” and that they’re “open to everything” as far as expectations for their next head coach. The team has appointed Paul Buckle, who previously served as an interim assistant coach with the club in 2022, as interim head coach. 

“90%, 95% of the best coaches in the world have been fired or let go,” Ellis said. “It’s sometimes hard for people in another ecosystem to know the space we live in, or I lived in, as coaches, but I think it’s part of what you do. I think we’ll have a lot of interest and people will want to come be a part of this.”

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