Many people consider the 1999 U17 World Cup one of the most successful international tournaments for a US Soccer Youth National Team. Finishing in 4th place, the team included many of the best players the United States has produced. Landon Donovan won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, and DaMarcus Beasley won the Silver Ball as the second best player. The team also included standouts such as Oguchi Onyewu, Kyle Beckerman and Bobby Convey. The coach of the team was Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC) and Baltimore Armour Technical Director, John Ellinger.
“This was a remarkable group of young men who had but one mission at the 1999 U17 World Cup and that was to win the whole thing. They played with flair, grit and passion throughout the tournament to finish 4th in the World. It was an honor to be the coach of this team,” said Ellinger.
Starting his career as a teacher and coach at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, MD, Ellinger then began coaching collegiately at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County before he went on to become the Head Coach of the U17 US Soccer National Team Residency program. After his success with the U17 National Team, he moved on to be the head coach of the MLS’ Real Salt Lake and then an assistant coach with FC Dallas. Ellinger was also an assistant coach with the Columbus Crew during the MLS Inaugural season in 1996. Once Ellinger finished coaching professionally in 2012, he came back to Maryland as the Technical Director of SAC.
“It was a great opportunity to return to SAC for a second time after leaving Dallas. I had great memories of coaching in SAC during my first stint as DOC and having the opportunity to return home to be a part of SAC again was an easy decision for me,” Ellinger noted.
Since joining the club in 2012, Ellinger has elevated the club to be one of the best in the country, and in 2015 helped launch the premier branch of the club in Baltimore Armour. Recently, Baltimore Armour was one of only two clubs in the state of Maryland accepted into the newly-formed Major League Soccer elite youth league. From Baltimore Armour down to SAC’s recreation program, the club is able to offer the entire developmental platform and can help players of all abilities.
“SAC offers quality player development options for all levels of play for both boys and girls. We offer a top in-house recreation program as well as the opportunity for our travel players to play in one of the most competitive leagues in the country-EDP. At the moment the top of our player development pyramid is Baltimore Armour for both elite boys and girls,” Ellinger said.
In addition to his roles with SAC and Baltimore Armour, Ellinger is also an instructor with US Soccer, and has helped guide many of the top coaches in the country today. Being back where it all started in Maryland, Ellinger is excited for the future of SAC and Baltimore Armour, and to be able to help players on their journey just as he did with Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley during their youth careers.