Emma Hayes is the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team. But she will not join the USWNT until two months before the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Twila Kilgore, who has served as interim head coach since Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation in August, will continue in that role through May 2024, at which point she will join Hayes’ staff as an assistant coach. So far, Kilgore has led the team to a 3-1-0 (W-D-L) record in friendlies against South Africa and Colombia in September and October.
U.S. Soccer’s willingness to wait for Hayes shows just how highly the federation thinks of its new hire. But it also throws a wrench into the preparations for the Olympics, which begin at the end of July. Hayes is committed to Chelsea through at least May 18, which marks the final match of the Women’s Super League season.
“This is a unique situation, but the team is in safe hands with Twila,” U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said in a news release. “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.”
Hayes will coach the USWNT in four matches ahead of the Summer Games, two in June and two in July.
Tobin Heath, who won the 2015 and 2019 World Cup titles with the USWNT, approved of Hayes’ hiring on “The RE-CAP Show,” her podcast with Christen Press. But she also thinks it means that U.S. Soccer is “sacrificing an Olympics” for long-term gains.
“And that’s really hard, I think, for any U.S. women’s national team fan or even player to grapple with, is this idea that this is a long-term play,” Heath said. “Because that’s what it looks like. She doesn’t have the time to go into an Olympics and win.
“Could the U.S. women’s national team still win an Olympics with absolutely no coaching? Yeah, Of course. And also the Olympics isn’t as big of a deal as the World Cup. It’s not as strong of a competition for a lot of reasons. But ultimately, it’s not a good signal for the short-term development of course-correcting what I think is a team that is really lost right now.”