It’s official. Emma Hayes will lead USWNT. Learn about the new coach

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The U.S. women finally have a new coach.

Well, kind of.

U.S. Soccer announced the hiring of Emma Hayes on Tuesday, 10 days after Chelsea said its longtime manager will leave the reigning Women’s Super League Champions at the end of the season. Though Hayes was quickly linked to the USWNT, where she will become the highest-paid coach in women’s soccer, it took until now for U.S. Soccer, Chelsea and Hayes to work out the details of her transition from one team to the other.

Chelsea’s season doesn’t end until late May. The U.S. women have international windows in December, April and late May, along with the Concacaf championship that runs Feb. 20 to March 10. More importantly, the Paris Olympics begin July 25 and the Americans are eager to not have a sub-par showing at a third consecutive major international tournament.

U.S. Soccer said in Tuesday’s announcement that Hayes will have four matches with the USWNT between the end of Chelsea’s season and the Olympics, with Twila Kilgore continuing as the interim manager until then. It’s not clear whether Hayes will join the USWNT at any camps before Chelsea’s season ends — club teams have breaks during the international windows — but she and Kilgore are expected to be in communication over roster selection and player development.

‘This is a unique situation,’ U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said in a statement. ‘But the team is in safe hands with Twila. 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.”

So how will it all work? Here are the details:

Who is Emma Hayes?

Hayes is one of the top managers in the women’s game, for club or country. She’s been at Chelsea for 11-plus years, winning six Super League titles, including the last four, and five FA Cups. Chelsea is currently atop the WSL standings, three points ahead of London rival Arsenal.

Hayes also led Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2021, and the semifinals last year. She’s a six-time WSL manager of the year and was FIFA’s coach of the year in 2021.

Before taking over at Chelsea, Hayes worked in the United States. She got her start in coaching with the Long Island Lady Riders of the USL, then went to Iona College. She returned to England and was an assistant at Arsenal, also serving as the team’s Academy Director.

Hayes returned to the United States in 2008 and worked with three teams in the Women’s Professional Soccer league, the precursor to the NWSL. She managed the Chicago Red Stars for two years and then advised the Western New York Flash and the Washington Freedom on personnel moves.

‘This is a huge honor to be given the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in world football history,” Hayes said in the U.S. Soccer statement. “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.’

A London native, Hayes is 47. She has a 5-year-old son, Harry.

How much will Hayes get paid?

U.S. Soccer didn’t specify how much Hayes will make, saying only that she’ll ‘become the highest-paid women’s soccer coach in the world.’ But given England coach Sarina Wiegman is making at least $500,000, it’ll be more than that.

When will Hayes join the USWNT?

When Chelsea announced Hayes’ departure, it said she’d be with the team through the end of the season. Given Chelsea’s final league game is May 18 and the Champions League final is a week later, that could put the USWNT’s Olympic preparations in a bind.

But U.S. Soccer decided Hayes was worth the temporary inconvenience, believing she is the person who can fix the USWNT’s lackluster style of play and address other deficiencies in the women’s program.

‘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,’ Crocker said. ‘She has a great appreciation for the legacy of this program and embraces the big challenges ahead.”

After dominating the women’s game for the better part of three decades, the USWNT finds itself having to play catchup to other teams. Its development system is not as good as that of many European teams, and it can no longer overwhelm opponents with sheer physicality and speed.

After finishing third at the Tokyo Olympics, the USWNT crashed out in the round of 16 at the World Cup, its earliest exit ever at a major international tournament.

‘I know there is work to do to achieve our goals of winning consistently at the highest levels,’ Hayes said. ‘To get there, it will require dedication, devotion and collaboration from the players, staff and everyone at the U.S. Soccer Federation.’

Who will run the USWNT in the meantime?

Twila Kilgore, who has been the USWNT’s interim coach since U.S. Soccer and Vlatko Andonovski parted ways after the World Cup. A longtime coach with the U.S. youth teams before joining Andonovski’s staff in 2022, Kilgore is the first U.S.-born woman to earn U.S. Soccer’s Pro Coaching License.

Though Kilgore is expected to be in frequent communication with Hayes, she will be the one running day-to-day operations for the USWNT.

The USWNT isn’t in residency, so players won’t be wandering around a facility aimlessly, looking for someone to give them direction. Players spend most of their time with their clubs, coming together for USWNT training camps and games every month to six weeks. And with the NWSL season just ending, most will take some time off before getting into off-season workouts.

But with the Olympics less than nine months away, Kilgore and the players can’t blow off the next six months, either. There are younger players to integrate, decisions to be made on older players and a desperate need for changes on the field, be they personnel, style of play or both.

Kilgore had begun bringing in new players — Jaedyn Shaw and Mia Fishel got their first caps under her, and Olivia Moultrie got her first call-up — and said part of reason for doing so was to give the new head coach some intel on the youngsters.

“It … gives the new coach an opportunity to have some information about how they adjust to the environment and, if they do play, what their first look is actually like and where they are in the process,” Kilgore said in October.

Expect that to continue. While the Olympics are the most pressing issue, Hayes is being hired for the long term, and it’s players like Shaw, Fishel and Moultrie who will be the cornerstones of the USWNT for years to come.

Will Twila Kilgore be one of Hayes’ assistants?

Yes. Kilgore will stay on as part of Hayes’ staff after Hayes takes the reins full-time. That will provide some continuity for the USWNT and give Hayes a valuable resource as she adjusts both to the international game and coaching in the United States again.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY