DiCicco: This team is better than the 2015 World Cup champs

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Jill Ellis and Morgan Brian, April 10, 2014. (Kent Horner/Getty Images)

In an interview with SoccerAmerica.com, Tony DiCicco, the coach of the storied ’99ers, said Jill Ellis is steering the U.S. women’s team in the right direction.

Notwithstanding the shocking loss to Sweden at this summer’s Rio Olympics, he said, the team is getting younger, more dynamic, and more versatile:

Jill did a very good job of moving some players into retirement, while others (Lauren Holiday and Abby Wambach) retired on their own. She also brought in some new exciting players such as Mallory Pugh, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, and Crystal Dunn … She is building an exciting, fun team to watch. 

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Christen Press after missing a penalty kick vs. Sweden, Aug. 12, 2016. (Eraldo Peres/AP)

DiCicco, the only U.S. women’s coach to win an Olympic gold medal (1996) and a World Cup (1999), also praised Ellis for her ability to bring out the best in players, and for her adroit handling of the team’s varied, often large personalities:

Jill Ellis has proved to be excellent with player management — and this is no easy team to manage. Players like Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Crystal Dunn and others are playing their best ever soccer…

He also said the celebrity enjoyed by the team after its World Cup triumph may have created “distractions” that carried over to Rio:

The players, rightfully so, had to take advantage of the marketing opportunities post-World Cup 2015, but how much of a wear and tear did those opportunities create? 

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The World Cup champs at a ticker-tape parade in New York City, July 10, 2015.(Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

 

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