U.S. Soccer hires longtime Chelsea boss Emma Hayes as USWNT head coach
The United States women’s national team has a new boss, as U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker announced the hire of longtime Chelsea boss Emma Hayes on Tuesday.
Hayes, 47, will take official hold of the team at the conclusion of Chelsea’s Women’s Super League season. She’ll have two months to get the team ready for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
The Yanks are set for a pair of December friendlies against China in Florida and Texas. They have not lost since their eyelash-thin loss to Sweden at the World Cup, beating South Africa twice in September, and beating and drawing Colombia in October.
Who is Emma Hayes? Biography, honors of USWNT head coach
London native Hayes began her career in the United States with Long Island Lady Riders and NCAA Division I side Iona before moving to Arsenal as an assistant coach in 2006. She then led Chicago Red Stars from 2008-2010 before taking the reins at Chelsea in 2012.
She led the Blues to six Women’s Super League crowns, five FA Cup trophies, two League Cups, and one Community Shield. Hayes was honored as FIFA’s “The Best” football coach in 2021, and is a member of the Women’s Super League Hall of Fame.
Emma Hayes comments on USWNT hiring
On leaving Chelsea: “I’m sure everybody can understand when you’ve been associated with a club for almost 12 years, a club built from the bottom up, they’ve become my family, become so much of my own identity. Without question it pulled up my heartstrings because I care so much for the players and everybody that I’ve built relationships with. But I’m all about challenge. We’ve won a lot at Chelsea and I’m very proud of that, and I’m proud of the fact that I can leave that club in a better place and one that I hope continues to compete. But for me, the challenge of competing for World Cups, for Olympics, the dream of coaching a team that I’ve always wanted to get the opportunity to, I simply couldn’t turn it down.”
On taking over USWNT: “I understand how important the team is to people and culture of the United States. This is not just about the soccer community and I fully understand the prestige and place that the team has in U.S. society. I’ve lived it. I remember being a young coach working my way up through the system in the U.S. and watching all those young girls aspire to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. For me, the honor of building on that legacy is part of my motivation, no question. I have watched all the teams endlessly since I was a teenager. I have coached players at different points that have been across the program. I understand what it means to the U.S. people, and I will do everything possible to make sure that we compete on the top end, because in the world game there’s no denying the gaps have closed worldwide so it’s important we work hard, but we work together because we’re not going achieve that alone. It’s the entire ecosystem and landscape that has to cooperate to make sure that the U.S. Women’s National Team is at the top of the podium. That’s our objective.”
On the pressure of running the USWNT: “I’ve been the manager of Chelsea for 12 years, and I manage a club of huge expectation and expecting to win is part of the DNA that I come from, but we have to be mindful to keep winning. We have to work hard at a lot of different things and have to earn that right because there are countries across the world that are performing at a top, top level. So for us, we have to make sure every one of our athletes understand the importance of what we doing for 12 months of the year - not just with the National Team, but what they’re doing at a club level, and the importance of how professional everything has to be for them as well as for the team if we are to compete for the top titles, because worldwide the top players now are playing in year-round situations that puts them in an advantageous position. So, we’ve got work to do, because if we want to be there, it’s important the players in particular demonstrate the commitment to their year-round development and that’s something I will challenge them on. It’s a healthy competition. Nobody has a right to play on the team. It has to be earned from day one, and I want to see those habits on and off the pitch from the players, and I look forward to setting them that challenge because I know for them it’s a huge honor to play for their country and it’s going to be my job to bring the best out of them and I look forward to that moment.”
U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker’s thoughts
“Once the list of candidates was narrowed down, we had a group of excellent coaches and leaders to consider, but we felt strongly that Emma was the best person and coach to take the U.S. Women’s National Team forward,” said Crocker. “Her passion for the game, her coaching acumen, her ability to galvanize players and staff, her dedication to continue to evolve as a coach and her qualities as a person are all incredibly impressive. She has a great appreciation for the legacy of this program and embraces the big challenges ahead.”
On Twila Kilgore remaining in interim role: “This is a unique situation, but the team is in safe hands with Twila,” said Crocker. “Her stewardship will be crucial during this period as we are focused on success at the Olympics. Emma has endorsed Twila, she will be a key part of Emma’s staff when she arrives and moving forward, and we are excited for what’s to come with our USWNT program.”