Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes has been confirmed as the new head coach of the United States women’s national team on a contract through 2027, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Tuesday.
U.S. Soccer said in its announcement that Hayes will become the highest-paid women’s soccer coach in the world.
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One source with knowledge of the deal confirmed to ESPN that her salary will be “close if not equal” to that of U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter, who makes $1.6 million. Bonuses will have an impact on what both managers will ultimately earn.
The source emphasized that Hayes’ salary was a reflection of what was needed to coax her away from Chelsea, rather than adhering to equal pay.
“This is a huge honor 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 U.S. Soccer Federation.”
The confirmation comes after Chelsea announced this month that Hayes would leave the club at the end of the Women’s Super League (WSL) season “to pursue a new opportunity outside the WSL and club football.”
Hayes will officially begin her tenure as USWNT manager at the conclusion of Chelsea’s season in May. She will then have four matches — two in June and two in July — to prepare the USWNT for the 2024 summer Olympic Games in Paris. In the meantime, Twila Kilgore will continue in her role as interim manager, and eventually join Hayes’ staff as a full-time assistant.
The USWNT has been coached on an interim basis by Kilgore since Vlatko Andonovski departed as coach after the team recorded its earliest exit at the Women’s World Cup, with a round of 16 defeat to Sweden this summer.
“Emma is a fantastic leader and world class coach who sets high standards for herself and for everyone around her,” said U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone. “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.”
The timeline by which Hayes will assume some of her USWNT duties remains fluid. A source with knowledge of the situation said that discussions are ongoing between U.S. Soccer and Chelsea as to what level of contact Hayes will have with the USSF hierarchy and USWNT staff over the next six months.
The expectation is that there will be discussions as it relates to rosters and the general state of the player pool.
U.S. Soccer insists that the hire is one made with an eye toward the program’s long-term future, and the chance to hire Hayes now is worth the six-month delay until she takes over full time.
In addition to the Olympics, there is also the matter of the Concacaf W Gold Cup, which is set to run from Feb. 20 until March 10 next year. While the tournament falls mostly within an international window, Chelsea has league matches with Manchester City on Feb. 18 and Leicester City on March 3.
“This is a unique situation, but the team is in safe hands with Twila,” U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said. “Her stewardship will be crucial during this period as we are focused on success at the Olympics.
“Emma had 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.”
Crocker led the hiring process, with sources telling ESPN that OL Reign manager Laura Harvey, Juventus manager Joe Montemurro and Australia manager Tony Gustavsson were among the finalists.
“Once the list of candidates was narrowed down, we had a group of excellent coaches and leaders to consider, but we felt strongly that Emma was the best person and coach to take the U.S. Women’s National Team forward,” Crocker said.
“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. She has a great appreciation for the legacy of this program and embraces the big challenges ahead.”
The recruitment of Hayes is a coup for U.S. Soccer. She is widely viewed as one of the top managers in the women’s game.
The London native began her managerial career in 2001 with Long Island Lady Riders of the U.S.-based USL W-League. She later coached collegiately with Iona College from 2003-06, and then moved to the professional ranks with Arsenal Ladies as an assistant from 2006-08.
Her first head-coaching role was with the Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer — the precursor to the NWSL — from 2008-10, which was followed by a move to Chelsea in 2012 where she has been since.
In her time with the Blues, Hayes led Chelsea to six WSL titles, five women’s FA Cups and two FA Women’s League Cups.
On an individual level, she’s been named FA WSL Manager of the Season six times and the League Managers Association Manager of the Year five times. She was named Best Football Coach by FIFA in 2021.