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Youth Boys Oct 17, 2011

Jill Ellis on youth development at U.S. Club Soccer’s id2 camp

There were many watchful eyes trained on the 1997- and ’98-born girls invited to the U.S. Club Soccer id2 player identification camp in Zarephath, N.J. this past weekend, with eight experienced coaches gathered from across the nation to train and evaluate the players with a view towards future youth national team opportunities.

But the perspective that might matter the most is that of Jill Ellis, Development Director for the U.S. Women’s National Teams, who attended the camp to scout potential candidates for upcoming U.S. camps and call-ups.

“Ultimately I think many of these players aspire to be on one of our youth teams,” Ellis told National Soccer Wire in an exclusive interview at the Players Development Academy, site of the id2 camp, on Friday. “These are players that obviously we’ll be looking at to bring into our camps and get into our youth environments.

“These are great events for us to come out and see players…and look at not just the players, but the coaches, and see what sort of things are happening out there in our youth soccer environment.”

Few can match the depth and breadth of the English-born coach’s understanding of the U.S. soccer landscape. A striker during her own playing career at Virginia powerhouse Braddock Road Youth Club and William & Mary, Ellis moved on to spectacular success as a coach, amassing a lifetime record of 248-63-14 in NCAA competition at Illinois and UCLA.

Over the past decade she has excelled in a variety of roles for U.S. Soccer, including scout, senior national team assistant, and leadership of the Under-20 and Under-21 National Teams. Her present role puts her at the very heart of U.S. Soccer’s efforts to identify a greater range of top-caliber talent and move towards a more sophisticated, technical style of play – just one of several topics Ellis discussed with NSW.