Chelsea were prepared to pay Emma Hayes a lot of money to stay put. But ultimately the Women’s Super League club could not match what the U.S. women’s national team could offer, the London Evening Standard reported.

U.S. Soccer has approved the deal to bring Hayes to the women’s national team with a salary rivaling that of men’s coach Gregg Berhalter, who earned $1.6 million as of the federation’s 2022 financial filings, the Washington Post reported. According to the same report, Hayes has agreed to a “long-term contract” with the USWNT.

Former USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski made approximately $450,000 per year, according to U.S. Soccer’s financial filings.

Hayes signed a long-term contract with Chelsea in 2021, though her salary was not made public. While the club reportedly offered to quadruple it to keep her in house, as she has led Chelsea to six WSL titles in 11 seasons, she will make the leap across the pond and up to the international level at the end of the current season.

Hayes, 47, also is seeking better work-life balance, with that reportedly being a key factor in her decision to make the move, the London Evening Standard reported.

England women’s national team head coach Sarina Wiegman believes that Emma Hayes’ hiring as the USWNT head coach is “good for the women’s game.”

Women’s Super League club Chelsea announced Saturday that Hayes would depart at the end of the 2023-24 season. Reports of Hayes filling the USWNT opening soon followed, with U.S. Soccer’s board of directors reportedly approving the hire over the weekend, though no official announcement has been made.

Hayes is a huge get for the USWNT, as she has built Chelsea into one of the top clubs in the world. She has led the team to six WSL titles and has been named Best FIFA Football Coach in 2021. Under Hayes, Chelsea also have won the FA Cup five times.

“It’s really incredible what she has achieved and what she has changed and the visibility she has, and that helps the women’s game,” Wiegman told BBC Radio. “So that’s Chelsea, but it goes so much further than Chelsea. It’s just really changed the women’s football world. And we need more coaches like Emma.”

Wiegman’s hope is that the visibility of a coach as accomplished as Hayes will help to grow not only the women’s game but also the number of women coaches who are involved in it.

“For the bigger picture of the women’s game, I think it’s good,” she said. “What you hope is that with her visibility and with more coaches that are visible, that you get more female coaches that can do a great job. And whatever level you coach, we need more women in football. It’s a little bit sad for England and Chelsea, but it’s also good for the women’s game in general.”

And as for the possibility of Hayes receiving equal pay to U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter — which at least has been on the table for U.S. Soccer, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer — Wiegman said that she can only “talk about my situation.”

“Since I’ve come in and worked for the FA, I felt treated so equal. And it’s not only about money,” she said. “It’s about the facilities, it’s about the full-time staff with the best staff members with quality. It’s about all the facilities, all the opportunities we get to perform at our highest level. And I feel equally treated and that feels really good.”

U.S. women’s national team fans got an unexpected piece of welcome news on Saturday, as multiple reports linked longtime Chelsea manager Emma Hayes to the open head coaching position for the former No. 1 team in the world. Hayes has been confirmed to leave Chelsea at the end of this WSL season, at which point she is expected to lead the USWNT to the 2024 Olympics.

Hayes was not on the shortlist reported by The Athletic last month, which named Australia’s Tony Gustavsson, OL Reign’s Laura Harvey and Juventus’ Joe Montemurro as the three preferred candidates for the job. But to many, she’s seen as the best hire U.S. Soccer could have persuaded to make the jump.

Hayes has won six WSL titles with Chelsea, including the past four years running. She’s also won five FA Cups, two League Cups and one Community Shield. She became the face of the sport’s evolution in England, both as a trailblazer in convincing one of the country’s top clubs to invest in the women’s game and as a manager who maintained an advantage as others followed suit.

Hayes brings a critical eye to a U.S. team at a crossroads. The USWNT’s development and tactical style have struggled to keep the world at arms length, as the global game catches up in women’s national team investment. Here’s what the USWNT can expect from their anticipated hire.

Right coach at the right time

Hayes has a familiarity with the American development pipeline and league systems, without being too close to the program to make bold decisions. One concern about an NWSL hire like Harvey was that coaches with preconceived notions of the USWNT hierarchy might be reluctant to make the necessary changes to push the team into a new era of women’s soccer.

In her time at Chelsea, Hayes seemed to have an eye for emerging superstars, famously recruiting Sam Kerr from the NWSL in 2019, and has always looked for American talent like Crystal Dunn in 2017 and most recently bringing in Americans Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel. She demonstrated an understanding of North American soccer, signing top Canadians Ashley Lawrence and Jessie Fleming as well.

Hayes also has experience coaching in the U.S., managing the Chicago Red Stars in WPS from 2008-10 and serving as technical director for the Western New York Flash and a consultant for the Washington Freedom. She returned to England without an incredible resume — she registered a 23% win percentage in her time in Chicago — but her growth as a manager since then sets her up to return with valuable experience.

If USWNT fans grew impatient with Vlatko Andonovski’s rigidity in his four-year stint with the team, they have reason to be excited for what Hayes brings. Her Chelsea teams are a testament to her willingness to try new things, both in personnel and the team’s style of play. She’s tried the Chelsea defense in both a four- and a three-back based on available players, and she can push the team into a high-flying attack against a bunker but isn’t unwilling to prioritize full-team defense against top competition.

That openness in philosophy should serve Hayes well at the international level and offset some of the perennial concerns of a club manager making the leap to a national team. The nature of the two jobs is very different. Hayes will have to get used to implementing her ideas in just a few weeks out of the year, compared to many months at the club level. She will also have to adjust to the scouting realities of a national team manager, no longer able to compile talent from other countries the way she’s done so well with Chelsea.

Hayes recruited USWNT forward Mia Fishel from Liga MX Femenil this season. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

History has a way of repeating itself

Hayes’ club record also provides a certain amount of intrigue, especially in the context of her predecessor. Coaching the USWNT requires many jobs within one — managing superstars and bubble players alike, having an eye on the development pipeline to maintain the health of the program and winning. U.S. Soccer and USWNT fans have both felt the conflict between the team trying to reinvent itself while also refusing to drop friendlies against top opponents. Hayes will be a perfect fit for the latter assignment; her Chelsea teams dropped very few games in which they were favored.

But Andonovski came into the role with similar club accolades, and in the end he was not the right manager to see the USWNT through knockout matches against the world’s best. And while Hayes has dominated all facets of English football for many years, there is one trophy that continues to elude her. Her Chelsea teams have never won the Champions League, losing handily to Barcelona in the one final they reached under Hayes. She’s not immune to being out-coached in the heat of a must-win game, and her Chelsea teams don’t always start hot out of the gate.

There is also the issue of U.S. Soccer’s reported plan for the build-up to the Olympics, which would require either interim manager Twila Kilgore or a member of Hayes’ new staff to guide the team until Hayes has finished her final Chelsea campaign in May 2024. It appears the U.S. would rather get their preferred candidate for the long-term future than make a hasty hire with the Olympics in mind, but pressure will be on Hayes to communicate her scouting and tactical ideas through the grapevine. Everyone will expect the USWNT to contend for the Olympic gold after a disappointing World Cup campaign.

Unclear communication and a sacrificed major tournament could complicate Hayes’ place in the locker room before she even gets a chance to run the team full-time, especially with a player pool as competitive as the USWNT’s. But her track record of managing those moments is as strong as they come, and if anyone can handle a tricky transition, it would be a coach of her caliber. The U.S. has found their coach, and now it’s time for her to build a team that can contend for glory once again.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

Emma Hayes is set to become the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, according to multiple reports.

The 47-year-old from England is stepping down as Chelsea head coach at the end of the Women’s Super League season, the club said Saturday. That announcement coincided with a flurry of reports that she is in advanced discussions with U.S. Soccer to take the helm of the national team.

Hayes’ is the “first choice” for the USWNT job, The Telegraph’s Tom Garry reported. The Athletic’s Meg Linehan and David OrnsteinThe Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf and Backheeled’s Joseph Lowery also confirmed that Hayes is in line for the USWNT opening.

While the Women’s Super League season does not end until May 2024, Hayes could join the USWNT during international breaks over the next seven months before stepping into the role full-time at the conclusion of the season, Backheeled reported.

Since Vlatko Andonovksi stepped down as USWNT manager in August in the aftermath of a disappointing World Cup run, Twila Kilgore has served as interim head coach for the September and October training camps. U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker had set a target deadline of December for the hiring of Andonovski’s replacement.

Hayes joined Chelsea as head coach in 2012. In her 11 seasons with the club, not including the 2023-24 season, she has won six league titles, five FA Cups, two FA League Cups and one Community Shield. Through five matches this season, Chelsea sit atop the WSL standings with 13 points.

“Given everything she has contributed to Chelsea in over a decade with the club, and the legacy she leaves behind, we would never stand in her way when she felt it was the right time to pursue a new challenge,” Chelsea co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in a news release.

“We are pleased that she will remain with the club for the remainder of the season to give us the time to identify her successor.”

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 until 2010 and then as the technical director for the Western New York Flash in 2011.

Hayes’ hiring by the USWNT comes as something of a surprise, as the The Athletic had reported that U.S. Soccer had three names at the top of its shortlist — and Hayes was not among them. Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson, Juventus head coach Joe Montemurro and OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey were the three candidates identified at the time, though The Athletic also had noted that others remained in consideration.

While she had not been linked to the USWNT job before Saturday, she had long been considered a contender due to her strong résumé. And at Chelsea, she is coaching two up-and-coming USWNT stars in Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel.

One of the reported finalists in the U.S. women’s national team’s search for its next head coach may be out of the running.

Former USWNT assistant coach and current Australia manager Tony Gustavsson was one of three candidates at the top of U.S. Soccer’s shortlist, The Athletic reported on Oct. 27. Laura Harvey of OL Reign and Joe Montemurro of Juventus are the other contenders.

Yet the same report noted that Gustavsson is not likely to relocate to the United States. And on Wednesday, Gustavsson alluded to the prospect of remaining with Australia.

When asked by Australia’s Network 10 about the reported interest from the USWNT and whether he would still be with the Matildas for the 2024 Olympics, Gustavsson did not deny his involvement in the search. But he did note that he is happy with the Matildas, who he led to the 2023 World Cup semifinals.

“I love this team, Gustavsson said. “And we have unfinished business to do.”

U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker has said that the federation would like to have a new head coach in place by the team’s December friendlies. Those take place on December 2 and 5 against China.

Gustavsson, meanwhile, is in the middle of Olympic qualifying competition with Australia. The Matildas took a 3-0 win over Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, advancing to the third round of Asian qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

The search for the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team includes three names at the top of the shortlist, The Athletic’s Meg Linehan reported Friday.

OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey, who also was among the finalists in 2019, is one of them. She is joined by Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson and Juventus women’s head coach Joe Montemurro. While other candidates still may be in consideration, these three are the top contenders, sources told The Athletic.

Vlatko Andonovski stepped down as head coach of the USWNT in August after a disappointing finish at the 2023 World Cup. U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker set a target deadline of December for Andonovski’s replacement, with Twila Kilgore serving as the interim head coach.

Just Women’s Sports breaks down the three top candidates.

Laura Harvey, OL Reign

A longtime NWSL head coach, Harvey is preparing for OL Reign’s NWSL semifinal match against the San Diego Wave on Nov. 5. While she has said her focus is entirely on OL Reign, she also described the USWNT head coaching position as “probably the top job in the world” when asked about her prospects in early August.

The 43-year-old from England worked in the U.S. Soccer system in 2020 and 2021, serving as an assistant coach for the senior national team and as a head coach at the developmental levels. But OL Reign have struggled in the postseason under Harvey, and the USWNT could choose to steer clear of the NWSL coaching pool after Andonovski’s lackluster tenure.

Tony Gustavsson, Australia

(Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty Images)

Gustavsson led Australia to its first-ever World Cup semifinal in 2023. The 50-year-old from Sweden also has experience with the USWNT, serving as an assistant coach under Jill Ellis during the 2015 and 2019 World Cup title runs. After the Matildas’ success at the most recent World Cup, Ellis argued that Gustavsson should be a “strong candidate” for the USWNT opening.

Yet Gustavsson likely would not relocate to the United States, which could affect his prospects, sources told The Athletic. Crocker has said he wants the next head coach to be a hands-on presence within U.S. Soccer, including at its Chicago headquarters.

Joe Montemurro, Juventus

(Juventus FC via Getty Images)

Montemurro, 54, started his coaching career on the men’s side in his native Australia, then shifted to women’s clubs. He left his home country for the Arsenal women’s head coaching job in 2017, and he led the Gunners to the Women’s Super League title in the 2018-19 season. In 2021, he joined Italian club Juventus as its head coach, and the team is in second place in the Serie A standings to start the 2023-24 season.

Despite his strong club résumé, Montemurro brings no experience at the international level, which could hurt his chances for the USWNT job.

The U.S. women’s national team is close to having its next head coach.

Veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn spoke with reporters Monday about the hiring process for the new coach, noting that she’s been kept up to date on the search. Per sporting director Matt Crocker, U.S. Soccer has targeted a December deadline for the hire.

“I have been involved a little bit, but just kind of updated periodically about where they are in the process,” Sauerbrunn said. “I don’t know names of candidates or anything like that, but I was aware of when candidates were being flown in for interviews and that sort of thing.”

Fellow defender Naomi Girma hasn’t been involved with the process at all, she said Monday. Rather, her focus for the September and October camps has been on “coming together as a group and getting a result against two top opponents.”

The USWNT won’t play friendlies in November but will finish the year with two games against China in December. It’s likely that the October camp will be the last camp under interim head coach Twila Kilgore, with the hope that the new coach is available for the December camp.

“We’re getting close and I think that they’ve got a few candidates that they’re very excited about,” Sauerbrunn said. “But for the most part, it’s just been process and knowing where we are in the process.”

Previously, Crocker has been vocal about speaking with “every single player” about what they want to see in the next head coach before making the hire.

“It’s important to listen to the players. There’s a hell of a lot of experience and a hell of a lot of great knowledge within that team, both youth coming through but also from the players who are multiple world champions,” he said in September. “And for me to get the context from them is really, really important.”

U.S. Soccer wants to establish a consistent style of play throughout the federation, from its women’s and men’s national teams to its youth development systems, sporting director Matt Crocker said. But that will come with growing pains.

The next U.S. women’s national team head coach is set to be hired by the end of the year, and the new hire will help to implement those plans. But that will take time, both in terms of the broader vision and the specific tactics, which could result in a bumpy transition period.

U.S. Soccer is prepared for that, Crocker told reporters Sunday.

“If we’re going to be brave, to play in tight pockets of space in those midfield areas, to start with, we’re going to make mistakes,” Crocker said. “And if the first time we make those mistakes, we just revert back in time, we’re never going to get past that stage. We’ve got to be brave enough to know that, on occasion, things might go wrong.

“But I don’t think we’ll ever stop trying to win, because the culture in that team, they’re winners, and everybody wants the program to be successful. We’ve also got to recognize that we are in a moment in time where we’re going to go through this learning process together. We have to accept that there’s going to be mistakes.

“And the head coach has to be brave enough to stand there above the players and go, ‘Those mistakes are on me in this period of time while we implement those things.”

As for what level of consistency he wants to see, Crocker made it clear that he recognizes the differences in the women’s and men’s games even as he aspires to a cohesive program.

“What it takes to win in both of those games might look slightly different, and we need to recognize that,” he said. “Probably 80% of it is going to be consistent across both pathways. But I think there’s this 10 or 15 or 20%, that needs to look and feel differently, because the game is different.”

As U.S. Soccer searches for the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, the federation is taking players’ opinions seriously, sporting director Matt Crocker said Sunday.

Already, U.S. Soccer has gathered an “unbelievably diverse pool of exciting candidates,” Crocker told reporters ahead of the USWNT’s 2-0 win against South Africa. He is happy with where the search stands, and he reaffirmed that the federation is “on track” to hire the new coach by December.

“I feel really excited about the coaches that we have that are interested in the role, which I think is a great indication of how highly this role is considered across the world game,” he said. “My job has been from the start: Go and find us the best candidate in the world.”

Crocker has included USWNT players in the process. He has talked with roughly half of the roster so far about what they want to see in the next head coach, and he wants to talk to “every single player” before making the hire, he said.

During his conversations, several qualities have emerged as necessities for Vlatko Andonovski’s replacement.

“There was definitely a sense of – this is no disrespect to the history – but the players want, going forward, a coach that can build, develop, and source outstanding relationships, that builds trust quickly, that can talk with gravitas and confidence about the direction of the program, that can be brave enough and bold enough to make the changes that are needed to take the program forward both on and off the pitch, and can explain the why really crystal clear and with simple facts,” Crocker said.

Throughout the search for the next USWNT head coach, Crocker, who joined U.S. Soccer in April, is looking to build relationships with players and to make sure their voices are heard.

“It’s important to listen to the players. There’s a hell of a lot of experience and a hell of a lot of great knowledge within that team, both youth coming through but also from the players who are multiple world champions,” he said. “And for me to get the context from them is really, really important.”

The next U.S. women’s national team head coach must be able to adjust on the fly.

Vlatko Andonovski struggled to do so during the 2023 World Cup, which doomed the team to an early exit and resulted in his resignation. His replacement will need to bring more tactical flexibility to the table.

After “the disappointment of the World Cup,” the U.S. Soccer Federation has talked with players and staff members about the next chapter for the team — and particularly “the tactics of what we want the team to look like going forward,” U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said Tuesday.

The U.S. already has the pieces and the players to field a high-quality team. But they need to find the right person to guide them.

“If you look tactically, we already know that we’ve got a great group of athletic women and a huge pool to pick from, so things like our ability to transition quickly is a key strength, defensively we’ve been really strong,” Crocker said Tuesday after the USMNT’s win over Oman.

Crocker knows he will be “accountable” for the big decision, so he is taking “an evidence-based approach” in the search for the next USWNT head coach. He targeted a December deadline for the new hire.

In particular, he pointed to “the ability to make in-game changes in key moments” as a must-have for the USWNT.

“I guess what we’d like to do is maybe develop more in a possession-based style, and to have maybe a Plan B and a coach that has got the ability to make in-game changes in key moments to improve the performance of the team is going to be key,” he said. “And obviously a coach that is a development coach, so a coach that can integrate young players into the team is going to be important.

“But then probably the final attribute is going to be the human skills, the leadership skills, so a strong communicator, someone that can build fantastic relationships, someone that can drive the program forward is all gonna be key.”