The battle between Megan Rapinoe and Lucy Bronze was billed as the match-up of the tournament – but Jill Ellis had other ideas.

While Rapinoe revealed post-match she had been suffering a minor “hamstring thing” she was still selected on the bench, meaning she was eligible to play.

Instead, Ellis opted for the pacier Christen Press who took the opportunity with both hands, heading the opener and running Bronze up-and-down the wing.

Football fans are split on what they make of the US coach – some think she is a tactical genius while others believe she is just lucky and blessed with a team of champions.

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Ellis’ coaching CV speaks for itself –  a World Cup as well as a CONCACAF Championship and Algarve Cup make it difficult for anyone to question her credibility.

Regardless of whether Rapinoe was in any state to play or not, naming her on the bench would have kept England on their toes and given the US a mental edge over Phil Neville and his team.

Naturally, the conspiracy theories followed but while it may have been the case there is also the view Ellis thought best to start Press – the faster player – ahead of Rapinoe to match Bronze for speed.

Despite Press playing second fiddle to Rapinoe, US fans would be quick to remind you she is no back-up and would be a walk-up starter in any other team.

The thought process behind this decision will be revealed in the final – whether due to injury or whether it was one of tactical brilliance.

This isn’t the first time Ellis’ moves have been questioned in big matches and tournaments.

Her decision to leave National Women’s Soccer League MVP Lindsay Horan out of the starting line-up against Spain and France ruffled a few feathers back home at the time.

Albeit, Horan’s replacement Samantha Mewis did not let her coach down as she impressed in the two matches she started in.

Likewise, her elevation of Alyssa Naeher – who saved Steph Houghton’s penalty – also raised a few eyebrows at the time.

Questioning Ellis’ credibility now would be an audacious move considering her history.

While she is blessed with a star team, there have been plenty of great teams who have failed on the big stage and the US are not one of them.

Her ability to out-coach Phil Neville and get past a plucky English side is a testament to her character and experience in the top job.

 

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athossirianos
athos.sirianos@gmail.com
First year Journalism student at RMIT University. Looking to get the truth out while having a bit of fun.