The U.S. Soccer Federation has appointed Emma Hayes as the 10th full-time head coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history.
Hayes, 47, the long-time head coach for Chelsea FC, one of the most successful women’s teams in Europe, started her coaching career in the United States at the dawn of the millennium and more than two decades later will take the helm of the USWNT.
“This is a huge honor to be given the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in world football history,” Hayes stated in a news release. “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.”
Hayes will finish the 2023-24 Women’s Super League season in England and then join the U.S. team officially two months prior to the start of the 2024 Olympics. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will continue in her role and then join Hayes’ staff full-time as an assistant coach.
Hayes, who grew up in London and went to university in Liverpool, first came to the US in 2001. She coached at the youth levels – working with players as young as Under-8s – with numerous clubs in the Long Island area, coached in the New York Olympic Development Program and was a member of the Region I staff. Her first head coaching job was with the Long Island Lady Riders in the USL W-League from 2001-2003. She was the youngest female head coach in the league and was named W-League Coach of the year in 2002. From 2003 onward, she has been a consistent presenter at the annual convention for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, now United Soccer Coaches.
After the Lady Riders, Hayes coached Division I college soccer at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York for four years where she led the Gaels to two conference championships and earned another coach of the year honor before returning to the UK where she became an assistant coach for Arsenal FC, the trailblazing club for women’s pro soccer in the UK, and the Academy Director for Arsenal Ladies.
During her time in North London, the Gunners achieved unprecedented success, winning 11 major trophies during a three-season spell, including three titles in the Women's Premier League (the precursor to the WSL), three FA Women's Cups and the UEFA Women's Cup crown (the precursor to the UEFA Women’s Champions League). Her role in the Arsenal backroom staff was combined with her position as Academy Director where she oversaw the development of young players at the club, many of whom currently play in the Women's Super League.
Hayes returned to the United States in 2008 and coached the Chicago Red Stars during the start of Women’s Professional Soccer, the second iteration of a pro league in the United States. Before her first WPS season, with the second overall pick in the league’s inaugural draft, she chose a young attacking player from the University of Portland named Megan Rapinoe. She also had stints working as a coaching consultant for the Washington Freedom and as the technical director at the New York Flash, which won the WPS title in 2011 with a team she helped assemble.
She returned to England in 2011 and was eventually named head coach at Chelsea, where she has coached numerous national team players from more than 25 different countries.
“I understand how important this team is to the people and culture of the United States, not just the soccer community,” said Hayes. “I fully understand the place this team has in U.S. society. I’ve lived it. I remember being a young coach working my way up through the system in the U.S. and watching all those young girls aspire to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. For me, the honor in building on that legacy is part of my motivation, no question.”