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Three Takeaways From USWNT 1-1 South Korea

The Jill Ellis era comes to an emotional close

Shaina Benhiyoun Photgraphy

In a way, the result on the pitch was beside the point.

The message from both Jill Ellis and the players was clear: yesterday was about the end of a huge chapter in the history of the United States Women’s National Team. It was about this particular group of players and technical staff getting together for the last time. A win would’ve been nice, sure, but at the end of the day the 1-1 draw with South Korea was effectively one long hug goodbye.

But there was still a game that needed to be played. Here are some takeaways from USWNT 1-1 Korea Republic.

“I Was ONE DAY From Retirement”

It has to be said: the US did not play well. They had their moments, and the last 20-30 minutes in particular showed some real fight to get a game-winner. But while the Americans came here for a long goodbye, the Koreans came to play.

And if we’re being perfectly honest, a loss in Chicago for the US wouldn’t have been unexpected. Or undeserved.

But if there’s one thing Jill Ellis knew how to do, it was to get her team to squeeze results where they otherwise had no right to. A 1-1 draw against the #20 ranked team in the world isn’t great, but it’s fine. And, in a way, it perfectly sums up much of the Jill Ellis era.

Looking To The Future

Two things I want to point out.

First, Tierna Davidson is showing some real improvement. You don’t make the senior USWNT squad at 19 years old on accident; she deserves to be here. But she’s still young, and still learning. With some clutch defensive performances in the first half in particular, Davidson is looking more and more like the stalwart presence in central defense that Ellis knew she’d become someday. That “someday” may come sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.

And second, for much of the first half we saw a fascinating partnership up top between Christen Press and Tobin Heath, with Carli Lloyd playing in midfield. They didn’t have much to show for it in terms of goals— Lloyd would go on to get the equalizer in the 37th minute, the US’ only goal of the afternoon— but in terms of passing and attacking thrust, it worked. It worked really well. Will we see more of this partnership heading into the Olympics? That’s up to the new head coach to decide. But if today was any indication, said new coach has at least one promising option for the forward line.

Thank You, Jill

A lot can be said for Jill’s coaching nous. I know I certainly have. Tactical setups that were frequently questionable, baffling lineup selections, deputizing forwards as fullbacks. And more to the point, a brand of soccer that was frequently... what’s a nice way to put it? Prosaic.

But there’s no denying that she put everything she had into this job. There’s no denying that this team, and her place in the organization, meant the world to her. These players went through hell because she asked them to. Whatever else you might say about Jill’s coaching— and one certainly could say a lot— she made this job, and this team, her entire life.

Plus, you know, two new stars on the shirt.

What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments below!