Longtime Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is in advanced discussions to become the head coach of the four-time World Cup champion United States women’s national team, multiple sources confirmed to FOX Sports on Saturday. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. The Equalizer first reported the talks.
Earlier Saturday, Chelsea announced that Hayes, who led the Blues to 14 major trophies and six Women’s Super League titles, including the last four in a row, since joining the London club in 2012, would leave at the end of the 2023-24 season in May to pursue “a new opportunity outside the WSL and club football.”
If the hiring goes through, Hayes will replace interim U.S. coach Twila Kilgore, who took over the team in August after Vlatko Andonovski mutually parted ways with U.S. Soccer. Andonovski’s American squad was eliminated from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand by Sweden in the Round of 16. The USWNT, which won back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2019, had never failed to advance to at least the semifinals at any of the previous eight Women’s World Cups. Former USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf also left U.S. Soccer following the historic failure, which saw the two-time defending champs score just one goal over their final three matches.
In 11 years with Chelsea, Hayes has dominated, leading the team to two domestic league and cup doubles and one trophy treble.
“Emma’s contribution to Chelsea cannot be understated,” Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said in a statement announcing her departure. “She has been a pioneer in women’s football and is hugely respected within the game.”
Hayes, 47, began her coaching career in the U.S., leading the Long Island Lady Riders from 2002-03 and NCAA side Iona from 2003-2006. She moved back to her native England to work as an assistant at Arsenal Women before returning to the U.S. to lead the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars from 2008-10. There was speculation that Hayes wouldn’t want to leave England for reasons other than having one of the best jobs in the club game. Her father died last month, and taking the U.S. job would almost certainly mean having to relocate stateside for the third time in her career, potentially leaving her newly widowed mother an ocean away.
The U.S. won an Olympic bronze medal at the last Summer Games in Tokyo under Andonovski, who has since been hired as coach and sporting director of the Kansas City Current in the NWSL. Andonovski previously led the NWSL team in Seattle and FC Kansas City, the Current’s predecessor in the top division of American professional women’s soccer.
When it becomes official, Hayes’ appointment will be U.S. Soccer sporting director Crocker’s second major senior national team hire since joining the federation from English club Southampton last April. In June, the Wales native re-signed Gregg Berhalter to lead the American men through the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host with North American neighbors Canada and Mexico. Berhalter oversaw the USMNT’s run to the round of 16 at the 2022 event in Qatar before his contract expired at year’s end.
Hayes will take over a U.S. women’s program in flux. Longtime stalwarts Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe retired last month. Other veterans like Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn might not be starters, if they’re involved at all, by the time the 2027 World Cup kicks off. But Morgan and Sauerbrunn are both expected to remain with the program at least through next Summer’s Olympics in Paris. The U.S. won the last of its four Olympic gold medals in London in 2012.
Kilgore’s October roster is mixed teenagers like Olivia Moultrie, Jaedyn Shaw and Alyssa Thompson with established regulars such as Naomi Girma, Lindsey Horan and Sophia Smith. Shaw scored her first international goal in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Colombia. Mia Fishel, who plays under Hayes at Chelsea, also scored in that match.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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