Abby Wambach

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Ellis stepping down as USWNT coach

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Two-time World Cup champion Jill Ellis is going out on top.

Ellis, 52, is stepping away from the United States women’s national team after 127 matches and a 102W-7L-18D record since 2014.

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The Portsmouth, England native won everything but Olympic gold with the USWNT, and was named the 2015 Women’s World Coach of the Year.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer announced that Ellis will stay with the team through the victory tour and then moved into an ambassador’s role. It also says the new USWNT general manager’s hiring is “imminent.”

From USSoccer.com:

“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them. I want to sincerely thank the world class coaches and staff with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – they are quintessential professionals and even better people. And finally, I want to thank the Federation for their support and investment in this program, as well as all the former players, coaches, and colleagues that have played an important role in this journey.”

Ellis sometimes confounded with her lineup choices, but ultimately did a masterful job navigating the deepest squad pool and group of egos in the world. She transitioned the USWNT from a side focused on Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd to a group that utilized a more complete attack, and won World Cups with both Wambach and Lloyd accepting super sub roles.

Who the USSF chooses to take her place will have a gigantic hill to climb, as Europe is investing heavily in women’s soccer and the sport is as competitive as ever. The new coach will also have to help keep the USWNT on track on the field as it battles the federation for equal pay and conditions.

Wambach, Gulati elected to National Soccer Hall of Fame

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Two of the biggest names in United States soccer history have been voted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Legendary scorer Abby Wambach and former federation president Sunil Gulati have their place in the hall, and will be inducted in September (via NationalSoccerHoF.com).

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Wambach scored 184 times for the USWNT, winning two Olympic gold medals and the 2015 World Cup. She added 75 club goals between Washington Freedom, Ajax America Women, magicjack, and The Western New York Flash.

Along the way, the 38-year-old Wambach has been an outspoken voice in the fight for equality, and admitted to struggles with addiction. She has a three-goal lead over Canada’s Christine Sinclair for most international goals.

Gulati’s legacy is in American infrastructure. The 59-year-old helped organize the 1994 World Cup and was the deputy commissioner of Major League Soccer before his time as a three-term U.S. Soccer Federation president from 2006-18.

USWNT brings Mother Teresa, Jennifer Lawrence under same tent with jersey tribute

Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit
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Don’t look twice when you see the name “Wambach” on the back of Alex Morgan’s jersey today at the SheBelieves Cup.

The United States women’s national team will be paying homage to iconic women on their jerseys Saturday against England.

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While Morgan (Wambach), Sam Mewis (Mia Hamm), and Adrianna Franch (Brianna Scurry) honor their USWNT predecessors, others are going off the board.

In some cases, way off the board.

Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will carry rapper Cardi B’s name on her back, a musician seven years her junior.

McCall Zerboni has opted for Mother Teresa, Christen Press for Sojourner Truth, and Becky Sauerbrunn is shouting out RBG — Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Full list:

No. PLAYER INSPIRATION

7

Abby Dahlkemper Jennifer Lawrence
Kelley O’Hara Heather O’Reilly

12

Tierna Davidson Sally Ride

19

Crystal Dunn Serena Williams

8

Julie Ertz Carrie Underwood

22

Emily Fox Elena Delle Donne

21

Adrianna Franch Briana Scurry

18

Ashlyn Harris Cardi B

17

Tobin Heath Doris Burke

16

Rose Lavelle J.K. Rowling

10

Carli Lloyd Malala Yousafzai

20

Jessica McDonald Maya Angelou

3

Samantha Mewis Mia Hamm

13

Alex Morgan Abby Wambach

1

Alyssa Naeher Robin Roberts

23

Christen Press Sojourner Truth

11

Mallory Pugh Beyoncé

15

Megan Rapinoe Audre Lorde

4

Becky Sauerbrunn Ruth Bader Ginsburg

14

Casey Short Katie Sowers

2

Emily Sonnett Tina Fey

6

Andi Sullivan Jessica Mendoza

25

McCall Zerboni Mother Teresa

The Soccer Hall of Fame’s “Essential XI” is infuriating

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Let’s get this out of the way: The National Soccer Hall of Fame’s “Essential XI” ballot — vote today! –will make you want to massage a mannequin made of broken glass.

That’s not because the XI isn’t fun, or the NSHOF won’t be amazing, but because choosing the members of this particular 3-4-3 is improbably difficult.

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I’ve filled out the XI a bunch of times, and not once have I felt good with my picks. Even the positions which seem clear cut… just… aren’t.

There’s one tip I’d give anyone considering their ballot: DO NOT choose a foreign player who played in the old NASL or an import who spent the waning days of his career in a nascent MLS.

Franz Beckenbauer and David Beckham definitely deserve credit for their contributions to American soccer, but having one of them pop up in an all-time XI would be an embarrassment in my — and I’m assuming many others’ — eyes.

Also, don’t do the write-in… the candidate won’t win (I made an XI of Josh Wolffs, anyway).

So here are the main options I wrestle with when I look at the nominees. Having men and women in the same XI is also a headache given the USWNT’s success.

Goalkeepers

Brad Friedel
Frank Borghi
Hope Solo
Nick Rimando
Tony Meola
Kasey Keller
Brianna Scurry
Mary Harvey
Tim Howard

Respect to all of these players, but it’s hard not to immediately strip this to Keller versus Howard (with Friedel in third, which is insane given our soccer culture). There’s recency bias here, I’m sure, but Howard’s success with Manchester United and then at Everton, holding the No. 1 chair for 10 seasons? That’s nuts. Keller’s career is nearly as amazing, and his performance against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup is close to Howard vs. Belgium in 2014. Brutal choice.

Ultimately I went with… Howard.

Defenders

Franz Beckenbauer
Harry Keough
Alexi Lalas
Marcelo Balboa
Christie Pearce Rampone
Steve Cherundolo
Carla Overbeck
Paul Caligiuri
Carlos Bocanegra
Brandi Chastain
Joy Fawcett
Kate Markgraf

Let me say this first, as a (horrible) forward, for some reason my favorite players were always backs. Bocanegra and Cherundolo are in my Top Three USMNT players of all-time. That said, it’s impossible to avoid Chastain’s status of holding the most iconic moment in U.S. Soccer history (It is called a Hall of Fame, after all), and Rampone held her position through one of the most competitive times in USWNT history. Keough gets the nod for his status on a legendary USMNT team and a storied career in coaching, too. He’s an architect.

Ultimately I went with… Keough, Chastain, Pierce-Rampone.

Midfielders

Walter Bahr
Michael Bradley
DaMarcus Beasley
Heather O’Reilly
Megan Rapinoe
Cobi Jones
Kristine Lilly
Carli Lloyd
Earnie Stewart
Julie Foudy
Tab Ramos
Claudio Reyna
David Beckham
John Harkes

First off, you have to include Lilly. She owns 354 caps and scored 130 goals, the latter of which is insane for a midfielder.

Now if you include Foudy, Rapinoe, Bahr, or Harkes — the latter’s omission perhaps the most egregious — you’ll have to exclude three absolute icons of the American men’s game.

Cobi Jones is the USMNT’s all-time caps leader, and his record is safe for some time. His iconic dreadlocks also just trump Alexi Lalas as the top look in U.S. Soccer (apologies to all the bald GKs and Bradley).

To me, Reyna and Bradley are similar players, generals, and trendsetters. Given the World Cup qualifying failure of the 2018 cycle, there’s a temptation to look past Bradley but that’s asinine. He’s got 140 caps, 17 goals, memorable goals at Azteca and in a qualifier’s qualifier against Costa Rica. And Donovan against Algeria doesn’t happen if Bradley doesn’t equalize against Slovenia. This doesn’t include his exploits at Roma, Gladbach, and Toronto FC. He’s really good.

Reyna won three NCAA championships under Bruce Arena at Virginia, earned 112 caps for the USMNT, and opened doors for Americans in Germany and Scotland (winning a double at the latter) in addition to becoming a fixture for Man City, making a World Cup Best XI, and winning the freaking Hermann Trophy.

All this leaves out Earnie Stewart and a two-time women’s World Player of the Year in Lloyd. Wow.

Ultimately I went with… Jones, Lilly, Reyna, Bradley.

Forwards

Landon Donovan
Carin Jennings-Gabarra
Tiffeny Milbrett
Abby Wambach
Cindy Parlow-Cone
Eric Wynalda
Alex Morgan
Michelle Akers
Jozy Altidore
Brian McBride
Clint Dempsey
Giorgio Chinaglia
Mia Hamm
Pele

This one feels reason enough to demand separate XIs for the USMNT and USWNT. In order to include a male, you need to ditch either Abby Wambach, Michelle Akers, or Mia Hamm. You have to exclude two of those to get both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the XI!!

Hamm scored 158 goals (second all-time) and 145 assists (first) in 276 caps. Even given the investment in American women’s soccer compared the rest of the world, that’s absurd. Akers scored 107 times in just 155 caps. That’s insane. Wambach, as dominant as she was, doesn’t touch that.

Which pretty much brings us to Donovan or Dempsey (Sorry, Eric Wynalda and Brian McBride). For me, the level of success Dempsey found as a flame-holder for American soccer in England tips the scales for me. He’s scored the same amount of goals in 16 less caps, though Donovan torches him in assists. If you forced me to take Donovan over Dempsey, I wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

Ultimately I went with… Hamm, Dempsey, Akers

Soccer star Abby Wambach elected to athletic Hall of Fame

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LATHAM, N.Y. (AP) Soccer star Abby Wambach (WAHM’-bahk) has been elected to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame.

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The two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA (FEE’-fuh) Women’s World Cup champion heads a class that also includes coaches Andy Capellan and Charles Engel; field hockey star Tracey Fuchs; three-sport star Heidi Mann Vittengl; and Section IV administrator Ben Nelson.

Wambach completed her stellar high school career at Our Lady of Mercy with 142 goals, earning 1998 national player of the year honors as a senior at the Rochester school. She went on to star in college at Florida and was drafted second overall by the Washington Freedom of the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2002.

She scored 184 goals at the international level, surpassing Mia Hamm’s record.