CHICAGO (AP) — Jill Ellis has been rewarded with a contract extension after leading the U.S. women to the World Cup title. Next challenge: the Olympics.
The U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday that Ellis had agreed to a multi-year extension. That leaves Ellis in charge as the Americans prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They have won three straight Olympic gold medals, with Ellis as an assistant coach for the last two.
Ellis guided the United States to its third World Cup crown last month with a 5-2 victory over defending champion Japan.
“I think it was a natural progression for me to want to continue with this team, with this program. And continue to push for excellence, and try to continue to keep this program at the forefront as it has been,” Ellis told reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon.
The 48-year-old Ellis took over as head coach of the U.S. team May 16, 2014, leading the women through World Cup qualifying and then to the title in Canada.
“Really very pleased that we’ve been able to reach a long term agreement with Jill. When she took the job a little more than a year ago, she was coming in relatively late in the game, but she knew the player pool, she knew the players and she knew the demands of the program,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “ I think it’s safe to say from our perspective, and from everyone’s perspective, that all of our goals were achieved, and those goals were really, No. 1, win the World Cup, which we obviously did, and continue to build for the future.”
Gulati did not specify terms of the contract with Ellis.
As the U.S. heads into its 10-game “Victory Tour” this fall to celebrate its world title, Ellis has compiled a 29-2-9 overall record, including two stints as interim head coach in 2012 and 2014.
She said she expects to expand her player pool in advance of the Rio Olympics next summer to look at new talent. The roster could look different that the one that won in Canada.
Ellis will have to trim her roster to 18 — down from the 23 allowed at the World Cup — and players Lauren Holiday and Shannon Boxx announced their retirement from the national team.
“Nothing is ever static,” she said. “It’s obviously another short run-up, but I feel very good about the assessment I’ve been able to have with the 23 players this summer. I feel very much ahead of the curve as to where I was a year ago.”