That is particularly true of late. The Americans are two years from their next major tournament, the 2019 Womenâs World Cup, and with no real trophies on the line, Coach Jill Ellis has used the games since last yearâs 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.
âWhat Iâm looking for is, Which new players can we add so we can be even better?â Ellis said. âIf thatâs your priority, then you have to play them. Thereâs nothing at stake right now. I have to look at the big picture of the team.â
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 â the teamâs largest losing margin in a decade â left the Americans finishing last in the tournament. Some took up the hashtag â#FireJillEllisâ on social media. Individual players also didnât 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…