For U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, Some Space to Work Out the Kinks

That is particularly true of late. The Americans are two years from their next major tournament, the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and with no real trophies on the line, Coach Jill Ellis has used the games since last year’s Olympics to emphasize tactical experimentation and to give opportunities to younger players. Regulars like Lloyd and Alex Morgan have seen their minutes reduced, and new faces like Rose Lavelle and Lynn Williams have been given long looks.

“What I’m looking for is, Which new players can we add so we can be even better?” Ellis said. “If that’s your priority, then you have to play them. There’s nothing at stake right now. I have to look at the big picture of the team.”

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Coach Jill Ellis, right, led the United States to the World Cup title in 2015 but has been criticized for some disappointing recent results. “I love that the fans want us to be perfect,” she said.

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Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello, via Getty Images

But with that long-term approach has come a less polished, less cohesive United States team. A string of frustrating performances culminated in back-to-back losses against England and France in March in the SheBelieves Cup, a tournament hosted by U.S. Soccer. Not only did Ellis fold some new players into the mix, but she also put veteran players in new roles and tried new tactics.

Fans reacted with alarm when a 3-0 defeat against France — the team’s largest losing margin in a decade — left the Americans finishing last in the tournament. Some took up the hashtag “#FireJillEllis” on social media. Individual players also didn’t escape harsh criticism on Twitter, where nearly all of the American players are active.

In an interview this month, Ellis said she was giving herself until this fall to continue to look at new players and test others in different…

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