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Jill Ellis: Australia coach should be ‘strong candidate’ for USWNT job

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Tony Gustavsson led Australia to the semifinals in its home World Cup. (Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty Images)

Former U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis thinks Australia’s Tony Gustavsson should be a “strong candidate” for the USWNT job should Vlatko Andonovski be relieved of his duties.

Gustavsson served as an assistant coach for the USWNT under Ellis during the 2015 and 2019 World Cup title runs. And now he has led Australia to its first-ever World Cup semifinal, though the Matildas fell 3-1 to England in the match. His success is unsurprising for Ellis, who told ESPN that she always believed Australia had what it takes to make a “deep run.”

“I watched them play against France in the warm-up game, and I remember going, ‘This is a well-oiled machine. They’re going to make a deep run in this tournament,'” Ellis said. “You could just see it — the way they stepped together and moved together. It just reminded me a lot of our team in 2019. We were a very well-oiled machine, prepared for any situation.”

Gustavsson has credited his time with the USWNT as being helpful as he’s navigated through this year’s World Cup.

“Those experiences were extremely valuable in learning tournament football — it’s very different than week in, week out in a league,” Gustavsson said. “I’ve been a club coach as well, but playing tournaments is completely different. It’s about finding a way to win in the game right in front of you.

“If I look back from 2019 to where I am now, my mantra is I want to get better every day, not just one day older. I sit here one day older, but hopefully one day better as well.”

Gustavsson was a big part of the USWNT’s rebuilding process after the disappointment of the 2016 Olympics. And Ellis told ESPN that she has seen similarities in Australia, with Gustavsson following a similar playbook to guide the Matildas.

While nothing has been announced yet about Andonovski’s future with the USWNT, his contract expires at the end of the year. And Ellis thinks U.S. Soccer should consider Gustavsson for the position.

“He should definitely be a strong candidate for the job,” she said.