Chelsea's Emma Hayes expected to become US women's soccer coach, AP source says

FILE - Chelsea's coach Emma Hayes directs her team during the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match between Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona in Gothenburg, Sweden, on May 16, 2021. Hayes will leave the defending Women's Super League champion at the end of the season, the club said Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

U.S. Soccer is closing in on naming Chelsea’s Emma Hayes as the new coach of the women’s national team, a source familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details had not been made public. The person confirmed reports in the Washington Post and the women’s soccer website, The Equalizer.

The hiring of Hayes required approval by U.S. Soccer’s board of directors.

Earlier Saturday, Chelsea announced that Hayes will leave the defending Women’s Super League champion at the end of the season. Chelsea said she was leaving to “pursue a new opportunity outside of the WSL and club football.”

Hayes has won 14 major trophies at Chelsea, including six WSL titles.

Former U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski resigned following the Women’s World Cup this past summer in Australia and New Zealand. The United States, which had won two straight World Cups, fell on penalties after a scoreless draw with Sweden in the Round of 16, the earliest-ever exit for the Americans in the tournament.

The United States had never finished worse than third at previous World Cups.

Andonovski, who was named coach of the United States in October 2019, finished 51-5-9 during his time with the team, and was 3-2-5 in major tournaments.

Last month, Andonovski was named coach of the Kansas City Current in the National Women’s Soccer League. Twila Kilgore, an assistant on Andonovski’s U.S. team staff, was named interim head coach of the team.

There was an urgency to hire a new U.S. coach ahead of the Paris Olympics next summer. The team has two additional exhibition matches scheduled this year, both against China, on Dec. 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and on Dec. 5 at Toyota Stadium outside of Dallas.

Other candidates considered for the job included former U.S. assistant Tony Gustavsson, who is currently coach of Australia’s women’s team, and Laura Harvey, coach of OL Reign in the NWSL.

Hayes has led Chelsea to two domestic league and cup doubles and one trophy treble since taking over the team in 2012.

“Emma has been one of the biggest drivers of change in women’s football. Her achievements at Chelsea are unrivalled and will live in the club’s history forever,” co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in a statement. “Given everything she has contributed to Chelsea in over a decade with the club, and the legacy she leaves behind, we would never stand in her way when she felt it was the right time to pursue a new challenge.”

Hayes has coached in the U.S. in the past with the Long Island Lady Riders, Iona College and the Chicago Red Stars.

She will have the chance to win a seventh WSL title before she departs.


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