The Athletic’s Meg Linehan and Jeff Rueter are reporting that former USWNT manager Jill Ellis has taken a front office role in Sacramento where she is to work with both the NWSL and MLS clubs as they prepare for their respective debut seasons. Per The Athletic’s reporting, Ellis has already begun work for the incoming NWSL side, representing the organization in league calls. This move represents a formal return to the professional game after Ellis stepped down following the USWNT’s World Cup victory in 2019.
According to multiple sources, Sacramento has hired Jill Ellis for a front office role. Her new role will include responsibilities with the #NWSL expansion team, as well as their MLS expansion team.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) January 29, 2021
Reporting with @jeffrueter at @TheAthletic: https://t.co/q3aZ8sqizc
The Sacramento NWSL expansion team was announced earlier this month by the National Women’s Soccer League commissioner, Lisa Baird. As of yet, we don’t have details on what the club’s name or colors will be, nor where they will play, aside from the fact that they will take the field in 2022. Likewise, while we know that Ellis is already involved, we don’t know much about her role. The Sacramento Republic, a club that has played in the USL since 2012, is set to move to Major League Soccer in 2023. The Republic, which had long been rumored for an MLS expansion slot before finally being announced in 2019, originally was to move to MLS for the 2022 season but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ellis brings with her a wealth of experience across US soccer. Most famously, she was the head coach for the USWNT from 2014-19, leading the team to two consecutive World Cup triumphs. Ellis stepped down and was replaced by current coach, Vlatko Andonovski, after the 2019 World Cup and the following Victory tour. Before stepping in to head the WNT, Ellis was a long-serving USSF employee, serving as Development Director for the national women’s teams. Ellis also spent over a decade coaching the UCLA’s women’s soccer team, where she won 6 consecutive regional titles. While Ellis is highly accomplished, she carries some controversy with her. Her time with the WNT, as successful as it was, was dogged by criticism of her decisions. Similarly, former players have openly criticized her. That said, Jill Ellis remains essentially the most decorated coach in women’s soccer.
After leaving the WNT, Ellis was rumored for several different roles, particularly with MLS side DC United. Instead, at Sacramento, Ellis stands to leave her mark on the very founding of two clubs, on both the men and women’s side of the game.