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Report: Ellis, Wagner among D.C. United head coach candidates


D.C. United has said goodbye to longtime head coach Ben Olsen, and some familiar names are emerging as potential replacements.

Former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis, current U.S. Under-23 Men’s head coach Jason Kreis, and former Schalke and Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner have all been linked to the vacancy, The Athletic reported on Monday. In addition, former D.C. United star John Harkes has also been linked to the opening, according to the report.

Ellis has been without a job since 2019 after stepping down as USWNT head coach. She is from the D.C. area and also led Robinson Secondary School to a Virginia High School League state championship in 1984 as a player before moving on to William & Mary.

She posted a career record of 106-7-19 during her time with the USWNT, winning back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup titles. The 54-year-old has since transitioned to working with the U.S. Soccer Federation as an ambassador for promoting the advancement of women in soccer coaching roles.

Wagner was released as manager of Schalke in late September after a poor start to the 2020-21 Bundesliga season. He took over at Schalke in July 2019 and was lucky to make it this far as manager after a poor end to last season. Schalke missed out on European qualification after winning only one league match in 2020 and two matches overall in all competitions.He won eight caps for the USMNT as a player, and also served as manager of Huddersfield Town from 2015-19 and head coach of Borussia Dortmund II from 2011-15. Wagner worked with both Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie during his time as a domestic head coach.

Kreis took over as head coach of the U.S. Under-23’s in 2019, but has only coached in five matches to date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After playing 11 years in MLS with the Dallas Burn (later FC Dallas) and Real Salt Lake, Kreis went into coaching at the club level.

He served as head coach of RSL for six years before eventually moving on to jobs at both Orlando City and NYCFC. Kreis is also the head coach of Inter Miami’s USL affiliate, Fort Lauderdale CF along with being in charge of the U.S. Under-23’s.

D.C. United released Olsen last week after 10 years with the club as a coach and 12 as a player. The 43-year-old struggled with the Black and Red this season, winning only two of his 17 matches in charge in 2020.

Assistant coach Chad Ashton was named interim head coach following Olsen’s firing, but saw his team lose 2-1 at the Chicago Fire on Sunday in its first match without Olsen.

The club next faces the red hot Philadelphia Union at Audi Field on Sept. 2nd, looking to at least end this regular season on a high note for 2021.



  1. Between Wagner and Kreis, I would definitely prefer Wagner. He has a trackrecord of getting results from poor rosters in much tougher leagues than MLS. Kreis has gotten really good results, but that was a long time ago and he needed the best roster in MLS to do so. Both choices seem pretty stale to me and I think both Kreis and Wagner are both admissions that DC United is ok being mediocre. Like, we know we’re not going to have a great team so we’ll get either an MLS lifer or a coach with experience coaching crap teams to keep our heads above water.

    I think Ellis would be an abject failure as an MLS coach. She has no experience coaching at a professional club (men’s or women’s) and frankly the women’s international game is already starting to pass her by. She spent the past 10 years coaching (and assisting) a USWNT team with no roster turnover and very little competition from other teams. Obviously, that is not how things work in MLS. There is tons of roster turnover and tons of parity. Could Ellis help her GM win a battle to sign a top player out of Argentina’s Primera? I doubt it. She has no frame of reference for how to do that. She’s never even worked with a GM. USSoccer hired their first women’s GM the same time Ellis left the USWNT. Ellis may well have never even coached a foreign player. She coached at UCLA in an era when very few NCAA teams even considered recruiting non US/Canadian players. Meanwhile in MLS a lot of (maybe most?) teams have players who don’t even speak English. Even if you think she was a good USWNT coach, Ellis simply doesn’t have the experience necessary to succeed with an average MLS team, let alone a poor one.

  2. Ellis – Bahahahaha She was terrible as the Woman’s coach. The team succeeded in spite of her, not because of her. Wrong players in wrong positions… many times. Staying with the old horses till they couldnt run anymore was a theme. I dont believe for a minute they would hire her.

    If she were to get the DC team… it would dissolve to garbage in no time flat

  3. kreis to me would be indicative of old boys network thinking. like how england recycles coaches. he has been a lousy coach since he left RSL in, what, 2013?? kind of like the NT obsession with Berhalter. time marched on after 2015. you’re hiring in 2020. what does his resume and winning % look like in 2020? he has a job at Fort Lauderdale, has no one noticed his record?

    wagner to me with one exception is basically failure after failure. i am lost on that one.

    why not look at a consistent college or USL winner? hackworth always has louisville competitive. gunn (stanford), cirovski (UVa), yeagley (indiana). try going back to the “arena” well as opposed to taking everyone else’s leftovers.

  4. i had an idea of if you wanted to try ellis you give her the remaining games of the season as an interim, “here’s your chance,” but particularly with the Higuain trade DCU has been gutted on personnel and i’m not sure their playing-the-schedule-out would be a fair test. i also feel that like landon or wynalda, there is a lot of space between no men’s experience and the first division. you think you can coach men, go show me you can do it someplace. personally i am big on resume so i want objective proof. or at least have her as an assistant who gets her chance next time the head gets fired. rumor was that was what DCU had been thinking earlier this year.


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