CHICAGO >> Megan Rapinoe will miss Jill Ellis running the U.S. women’s national team.
“A lot, I think,” star forward Rapinoe said after the U.S. tied South Korea 1-1 today in the final game for Ellis on the exhibition tour of the two-time Women’s World Cup champions. “It’s such an intimate environment in so many ways. You’re with these people more than anyone else, and in a very vulnerable way. Everyone’s doing it to reach this one goal, and everything’s stripped away.
“There’s no room for ego or personal achievements. Everyone has to be on board. Having all of that, it’s tough to lose someone. Jill, being the leader of our team, all she’s led us through, all the wins, the ups and downs, the different lineups and formations and doubts, and to accomplish our goal, it’s something really special.”
Ellis choked up speaking of her five-year run as coach, saying it got to her just before the team took the field before 33,027 fans at Soldier Field.
“When you get in the moment, you kind of push through, but when I was high-fiving the players on the way out onto the field I got kind of choked up,” Ellis said, barely finishing the sentence. “They’re a good group.”
Ellis, 53, picked up her American-record 106th win Thursday night against South Korea. She was honored before the game with a jersey signed by the team and 132 written on the back, signifying the number of games she coached in a career that began with two stints as interim coach in 2012 and 2014. Her two world coach of the year honors came in 2015 and this year following the back-to-back American victories in the Women’s World Cup.
“My legacy, that’s someone else’s narrative to write,” Ellis said. “It’s not about me writing my legacy or what I hope it to be. I’ve tried to always give everything I have to this job and with passion. I feel good about that. “The best part of this job is building relationships. I’m not going to remember games so much as I’m going to remember all these people who helped me get where I am.”
Captain Carli Lloyd scored in the 37th minute and saw a potential winning goal ruled offside in the 93rd minute to climax a furious final stage.
“It would have been nice to send Jill out with another win,” Lloyd said. “It’s been a long, tough year for everybody but those last few minutes were exciting. We’ve won a ton with her.”
Ji So-yun scored for South Korea.