The USWNT say goodbye to head coach Jill Ellis and the World Cup run this past weekend at the Victory Tour in Chicago

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It has been a whirlwind summer and early fall for the US Women’s National soccer team. On August 3rd, not even a month after winning the World Cup, they began their Victory Tour, a five city national tour spanning from California to Chicago. And on Sunday afternoon, the championship team not only said thank you to the fans, but also to Jill Ellis as Sunday’s game at Soldier Field would be her last as head coach. “It’s a story written and chapter closed and it’s on to other things,” said Ellis. “But it’s been an unbelievable journey and it’s been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”

Ellis will leave the program as the winningest coach in US soccer history with a record of 106-7-19. She also has the record for most USWNT games coached, was the first coach to win back to back Women’s World Cup titles and was named the 2019 FIFA coach of the year. “Numbers like that kind of fade away,” explained Ellis. “It’s about the players and staff and people and the memories. I’ve got a truck full of memories with this and it’s been fantastic.”

As the game ended in a 1-1 tie against Korea Republic, that goal was the first time US was scored on in this tour and the first time they didn’t win since March. And with wanting to send their coach home with one more win being on the mind of the team, ending the tour in Chicago was just fine. “It was a great send off for her and it was good to have this last game for her,” said USWNT midfielder, Carli Lloyd. “We would have liked to send her off with a win but at least she got that record last game so that’s was good.”

Lloyd would score the lone goal for the US women on Sunday via a beautiful header late in the first half; just minutes after Korea Republic’s Ji Soyan scored their only point for the day. It would be Lloyd again that would score again in the extra minutes of the game only to be called offside. “I’ve got a lot of messages,” explained Lloyd. “And I haven’t seen the replay yet, but I was told I wasn’t offside.” The final twenty minutes of the game had fans on the edge of their seats as a total of five shots were taken on goal from the US team. And although none of those shots found the back of the net, Ellis was very pleased with the outcome. “It just kind of epitomized what this team was about,” explained Ellis. “Like pushing, on the edge, always fighting until the end and I always say to the players, we want to play well but we also want to entertain and I think the fans got a pretty thrilling last twenty minutes of that game. It was pretty emotional twenty three minutes. It was great.”

With just two games left this year and a new head coach to be announced very soon, the USWNT are ready to hit the reset button and focus on new adventures for 2020. “It is emotional,” said 2019 FIFA Player of the Year, Megan Rapinoe. “Obviously we are in the last game of the Victory Tour and the last time that all of these players will be together and taking a step back and realizing how difficult it is to get to a world cup and to be as successful as we have and to get to a world cup final and actually win it, it’s such an indescribable experience. You’re in it in the grind every day. Obviously for Jill being the leader of our team, and all that’s she’s lead us through, all the wins, all the ups and downs, the different formations, the doubts and everything, to be able to actually accomplish our goal is something really special and something you really can’t put into words. You either have been there and you know how it feels or you kind of watch it from the outside. It’s something special that only we’ll have.”

Photo: Nicholas Cunningham

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