The team slogged through a 2-1 victory marked by physical defensive play from the Spaniards and a “soft” go-ahead penalty kick awarded to the Americans.
The U.S. squad looked like it could use an injection of energy as the game wore on, but Ellis failed to insert a new player until replacing Alex Morgan with Carli Lloyd in the 85th minute. Two more moves followed, including the departure of Megan Rapinoe, who scored both goals on penalty kicks. The U.S. advanced to meet host France in Paris on Friday in a highly anticipated quarterfinal.
Ellis explained afterward that she delayed substituting because “it felt that we started to gain momentum, and I think as a coach you have to read that moment because a player can look absolutely fatigued and then suddenly things change and they get their legs again. ”
But many armchair coaches weren’t buying it. Some made their sentiments known with a kick of humor.
Does Jill Ellis know she’s allowed to sub?
— Arielle Orsuto (@KWCHArielle) June 24, 2019
Jill Ellis pocketing those subs to take to dinner later.
— Tyler Duffy (@tyduffy) June 24, 2019
Shocking coaching performance by Jill Ellis today. Morgan and Rapinoe were both poor, and with all that talent on the bench, she brings in no subs until after a lucky second goal. Would have been interesting to put a mic in front of Lloyd had they lost.
— Ran Holeman (@ranholeman) June 24, 2019
Why is Jill Ellis allergic to subs?
— 🏳️🌈lauryn🏳️🌈 (@lbshank1998) June 24, 2019
Jill Ellis might as well have been a ficus tree for those 90 minutes. Didn’t get on the refs about the constant Spain fouling, waited till past the 80th to make subs??? and played an XI that got exposed. The front 6 were wholly uncreative and uninspired other than Heath. #USWNT
— Steve Brzozowski (@SteveBrzozowski) June 24, 2019
we’ve been getting knocked to the ground over and over and over again and there’s 8 minutes left and not a single sub has been used. jill ellis is the dumbest person i’ve ever seen
— jill 🇺🇸 (@ASHLYNHARRlS) June 24, 2019
It’s the year 3000 and Jill Ellis still hasn’t made a substitution #FIFAWWC
— Katja (@applessquabble) June 24, 2019
Jill Ellis managed this game like The Joker driving through Gotham in The Dark Knight but the #USWNT survived. Somehow.
— Neil W. Blackmon (@nwblackmon) June 24, 2019