Operator-investor Dave Checketts replaced him with Jason Kreis May 3 and he had stayed on as technical director. Ellinger had given Kreis some coaching responsibilities as a player, such as breaking down game video, yet Kreis took over the job with no coaching experience. The timing also came as a shock.
"John got fired four games into the season, there's nothing I could have done about that," said Freddy Adu, who had joined RSL during the offseason from D.C. United in a trade and has since been sold to Portuguese club Benfica. "I'm with a new team, just trying to fit in, and four games into the season the guy you went to play for gets fired -- that took a toll on me, it really did. I was very disappointed about that.
"I care a lot about him and his family. He's a good coach, and I don't mind telling anybody how much he helped me develop as a player."
A call to Ellinger Tuesday afternoon was not returned in time for this report.
Ellinger coached RSL to a 15-37-16 record after leaving U.S. Soccer, where he coached the under-17 team and managed the residency program in Bradenton, Fla.