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USWNT officially hires Emma Hayes as next head coach

Emma Hayes led Chelsea to the 2023 Women's Super League title. (Harriet Lander/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Emma Hayes officially has been named the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday.

The 47-year-old from England is stepping down as Chelsea head coach at the end of the Women’s Super League season in May 2024. That announcement from the English club on Nov. 4 coincided with a flurry of reports connecting Hayes to the USWNT opening.

Hayes replaces Vlatko Andonovksi, who stepped down as USWNT manager in August in the aftermath of a disappointing World Cup run. Twila Kilgore served as interim head coach for the September and October training camps, and she will continue in that role before joining Hayes’ staff as an assistant coach.

Hayes joined Chelsea in 2012. In her 11 seasons at the helm, not including the 2023-24 season, she has won six league titles, five FA Cups, two FA League Cups and one Community Shield. While the club made a bid to keep Hayes, their offer could not match that of the USWNT, where her base salary reportedly will match that of men’s coach Gregg Berhalter, who earns $1.6 million per year.

“This is a huge honor to be given the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in world football history,” Hayes said in a news release. “The feelings and connection I have for this team and for this country run deep. I’ve dreamed about coaching the USA for a long time so to get this opportunity is a dream come true.”

Through six matches this season, Chelsea sit atop the WSL table with 16 points. And her current roster includes two up-and-coming USWNT stars in Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel.

Before joining Chelsea, Hayes worked in the United States as part of the Women’s Professional Soccer league, a precursor to the NWSL. Hayes served as the head coach for the Chicago Red Stars from 2008 through 2010 and then as the technical director for the Western New York Flash in 2011.

Hayes’ impending hire was met with cheers from across the women’s soccer world. England head coach Sarina Wiegman called it “good for the women’s game,” while USWNT star-turned-analyst Carli Lloyd is “excited” by the move. USWNT midfielder Kristie Mewis said Hayes is “exactly what we need,” while forward Tobin Heath referred to the choice as a “no-brainer.”

The praise comes even after Hayes called out issues within the U.S. program after the USWNT’s exit from the 2023 World Cup. She pointed to problems with the development system, which have helped leave the team “massively short of creative talent.”

“The realities are, it is going to be very, very difficult for the US to climb back to the top,” Hayes wrote for The Telegraph. “I’m not saying they won’t, with hard work and the right conversations around their model. They will have to respond to this World Cup.”