Jill Ellis, who this summer oversaw American soccer’s first Women’s World Cup championship in 16 years, has agreed to a multi-year contract to remain in charge of the U.S. national team, sources familiar with the negotiations told the Insider on Tuesday night.
Ellis’s previous deal expired last week. The U.S. Soccer Federation could have exercised options to retain her for up to five additional years. Instead, the organization voided the terms of that pact and brokered a new contract. Although the specific length was not immediately disclosed, Ellis is expected to guide the squad through the 2019 World Cup in France and perhaps the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The next major competition is the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil.
Ellis, 48, was the first woman to coach the U.S. squad to the world title, its third in seven attempts and first since 1999.
USSF officials did not want to comment on the status of negotiations. Ellis could not be reached for comment.
The agreement comes less than two weeks before a 10-game victory tour begins against Costa Rica on Aug. 16 in Pittsburgh.
Ellis — a native of England and graduate of Fairfax’s Robinson Secondary School and William and Mary — was appointed head coach in May 2014 at a base salary ranging from $185,000 to $215,000, according to USSF documents. She also earned undisclosed bonuses for winning the World Cup and meeting other incentives. Her new salary will not become public until federation financial statements are released next year.
Ellis, 48, rose through U.S. coaching ranks over more than 25 years. She began as a college assistant (North Carolina State, Maryland and Virginia), launched the Illinois program and enjoyed national success at UCLA. With the USSF, Ellis has coached the under-20 and under-21 squads, served as a national team assistant and held the head coaching job on an interim basis twice.
During the World Cup in Canada, many fans, former players and media members criticized her lineup choices and tactics as the U.S. team, heavily favored to contend for the championship, stumbled through the group stage and round of 16.
However, Ellis’s long-term approach to the month-long tournament and adjustments in the late rounds steered the Americans back on track. They showed notable improvement in the quarterfinals against China, ousted top-ranked Germany in the semifinals and dominated Japan in the final, 5-2, on July 5 at Vancouver’s BC Place.
Carli Lloyd, who recorded a hat trick against Japan, said after the match: “I know lots of people were worried about us, but we all held together, we all stayed the course, we all executed the game plan. What Jill did and the coaching staff did from start to finish earned us this World Cup.”
[In a column three weeks ago, I made the argument that, as a global leader in women’s soccer efforts on and off the field, the USSF should do more than exercise Ellis’s contract options.]
After the victory tour, Ellis will oversee a roster transition. Several veterans, including Lauren Holiday, will retire from international soccer and rising prospects, such as the Washington Spirit’s Crystal Dunn, will enter the mix.
Meantime, EqualizerSoccer.com is reporting the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament will take place this January in the United States, not Mexico, as initially planned. The Americans, who have won four of the five Olympic gold medals, are heavily favored to earn one of the region’s two berths, regardless of location.