Emma Hayes is set to be named the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national teams, a source tells Backheeled.
Hayes, 47, is one of the most well-respected managers in the women’s game and has had immense success with Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League. Chelsea announced that she will continue with the club until the end of the WSL season.
A source tells Backheeled that there is a possibility Hayes will join the USWNT during international breaks between now and then before taking over full-time.
She won six WSL titles with the London club and only finished outside the top three during her first two seasons there after taking over in 2012. With some clear tactical principles dictating an otherwise flexible structure, Hayes coached an effective, often dominant team that featured some of the best players in the world. Among many others, Sam Kerr, Crystal Dunn, Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, and Lauren James have all spent time playing under Hayes.
While at Chelsea, Hayes helped transition the club from being a team full of part-time players to full-time professional team.
“There wasn’t a single member of full-time staff that worked for the women’s section, let alone had an office, let alone had a desk," she told the Telegraph, looking back on her early days with Chelsea. "The starting point was zero, and that was both terrifying and exciting all at once."
Hayes signed a new contract with the club in 2021 — one with an extremely rare twist. The contract didn't include a specific end date due to the respect and commitment that both Chelsea and Hayes have towards the other. Now, though, she's taking on a new challenge by transitioning to the international game as the USWNT's newest manager.
Now, Hayes has some familiarity with the American soccer landscape: before starting her role as Chelsea manager in 2012, Hayes coached in the United States. In the 2000s, she managed the Long Island Lady Riders, Iona College, and she become the manager and director of soccer operations for the Chicago Red Stars in 2008. While coaching the Red Stars, Hayes drafted U.S. star Megan Rapinoe with the second overall pick in the 2009 WPS Draft. After she was fired by the Red Stars, Hayes served as an advisor for multiple U.S. clubs before taking a break from soccer.
That break, then, led her back to England where she took over Chelsea more than a decade ago.
Looking towards the United States, expectations are high for the USWNT, as always. However, the team is coming off a failed performance at the 2023 World Cup under former manager Vlatko Andonovski. The United States were eliminated by Sweden in the Round of 16 after finishing second in their group behind the Netherlands. Between issues at the World Cup and only a bronze medal at the Olympics in 2021, the U.S. program is at its lowest point in recent memory.
Hayes, then, has the challenge of trying to restore the USWNT to their perch on top of the global ladder.
With an impressive track record at one of the biggest clubs in the world, it's difficult to view this hire as anything other than an ambitious, promise-filled swing from U.S. Soccer.
There will, of course, be questions. How does Hayes adapt to the international side of the sport, where managers have less time on the training field with their players? Can she instill a some best-practices in the final third, where the U.S. struggled under Andonovski? How will she handle integrating some of the program's top young talent?
Even with questions, at least there is now a guiding force for a team that has been without one for months (or years, depending on how you view Andonovski's tenure).