US women’s national team appoint Emma Hayes as world’s highest-paid female coach
Emma Hayes has been appointed as the new coach of the USA women’s national team. The Chelsea manager, who will leave her current role at the end of the season, has agreed a deal which makes her the world’s highest‑paid female coach.
“This is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in world football history,” Hayes said.
“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. I know there is work to do to achieve our goals of winning consistently at the highest levels. To get there it will require dedication, devotion and collaboration from the players, staff and everyone at the US Soccer Federation.”
Hayes had been linked to the vacant role after Vlatko Andonovski resigned in August following USA’s poor 2023 World Cup campaign, where they were eliminated in the last 16, the team’s worst finish at the tournament.
Chelsea revealed this month that Hayes would be leaving in May to “pursue a new opportunity outside the WSL and club football”. The 47‑year‑old, regarded as one of the most influential managers in the women’s game, has been in charge of the London club since 2012.
“Emma is a fantastic leader and world‑class coach who sets high standards for herself and for everyone around her,” the US Soccer president, Cindy Parlow Cone, said. “She has tremendous energy and an insatiable will to win. Her experience in the USA, her understanding of our soccer landscape and her appreciation of what it means to coach this team makes her a natural fit for this role and we could not be more pleased to have her leading our women’s national team forward.”
Hayes has led Chelsea to six WSL titles, five Women’s FA Cups, two Continental Cups, the Spring Series, a Community Shield victory and a Champions League final.
As well as the lucrative terms of her contract with the USWNT – which Yahoo Sports reported as being in the region of $1.6m (£1.3m) a year – the less hectic schedule of international football should help Hayes to achieve the work-life balance she has sought recently.
“I’ve driven four hours to and from this place six days a week for 12 years,” she said last week of her career with Chelsea. “I have a five‑year‑old that needs more of his mummy. That’s important. Family matters.”
Hayes is well qualified for a role in the US. She has coached and consulted in America, and helped to construct the Western New York Flash team that won a national title in 2011.
“I understand how important this team is to the people and culture of the United States, not just the soccer community,” Hayes said. “I fully understand the place this team has in US society. I’ve lived it.”
Hayes finds herself in charge of a team in flux. Players such as Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Ali Krieger, who helped the US to dominate women’s football for so long, have retired. There is no lack of young talent but players such as Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman have yet to reach their peak. Perhaps more significantly, the rest of the world has caught up with the US and a stroll to the later stages of the World Cup and Olympics is no longer a given.
The first major tournament for Hayes as USA manager will be the Olympics next year in Paris, for which the Americans have already qualified. But Hayes will have limited preparation time as her Chelsea contract runs until May 2024 and the Games start at the end of July. Once she takes up her new role, Hayes will have four games with USA before the start of the Olympics. Twila Kilgore will act as interim head coach until Hayes arrives, and will then become the Englishwoman’s assistant.
“This is a unique situation, but the team is in safe hands with Twila,” the US Soccer sporting director, Matt Crocker, said. “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.”
Last week the USA forward Tobin Heath praised Hayes as a “great choice” to the lead USA but questioned how her commitment to Chelsea would affect the Americans’ chances at the Olympics.
“Could the US 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,” she said on the Re-Cap Show podcast. “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.”