Jill Ellis has officially been named the new head coach of the United States women's national team after two previous stints in the position on an interim basis.
The United States Soccer Federation made the announcement on its official site. It noted Ellis will begin her full-time career with an undefeated 6-0-3 record thanks to her success as the interim manager. She's also served as an assistant on the coaching staff since 2008.
In the release, Ellis called the hiring a "huge honor" and said, "I'm humbled and proud to lead the current generation of players toward the ultimate goal, a FIFA World Cup championship."
U.S. Soccer also welcomed Ellis to her new role on Instagram:
Hope Solo offered her support as well:
So happy that Jill Ellis is our new HC! She's been around our program for years & has everyone's respect. Couldn't think of a better choice!— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) May 16, 2014
The longtime coach began her career as an assistant with NC State in 1988. She worked her way up the coaching ladder, including stops with the United States youth national teams, before reaching her most high-profile position to date with Friday's announcement.
She will take over a talent-laden squad that underperformed in the Algarve Cup in March and hasn't won a World Cup since 1999. Finding a way to end that extended drought is her most important task over the next 14 months.
Andrew Das of the New York Times notes four other coaches have taken the reins of the national team with that goal and come up short:
Now all Jill Ellis has to do is win the World Cup next year, something her four immediate predecessors could not do.— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) May 16, 2014
While a new voice leading the way will bring renewed optimism, not everybody believes naming Ellis the full-time head coach is going to make a difference. Mark Zeigler of U-T San Diego isn't sure about her ability to manage the squad:
Jill Ellis named US women's coach. Nice person but not sure she's tough enough to handle egos/personalities that got Tom Sermanni fired.— Mark Zeigler (@sdutzeigler) May 16, 2014
Do you think Ellis was the right hire?
Ellis' first matches officially in charge will come next month. That's when the United States is slated to play a pair of home friendlies with France, which is ranked fourth in the world. She will attempt to build on her unbeaten run as interim manager.
Then in October, the United States hosts the qualifying tournament for next year's World Cup. Making sure the team navigates that event without any unexpected issues will help her set the tone for a successful build toward next summer.
All told, Ellis paid her dues, and now she's getting an opportunity to lead the United States back to the top of the women's soccer world.