Home Sports Emma Hayes comes to USWNT as a five-peat WSL champion at Chelsea

Emma Hayes comes to USWNT as a five-peat WSL champion at Chelsea

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Emma Hayes, head coach and manager of Chelsea Women, celebrates during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Manchester United and Chelsea FC at Old Trafford on May 18, 2024 in Manchester, England.(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt -AMA/Getty Images)

Emma Hayes will arrive in the United States next week, and her first training camp in charge of the United States women’s national team, as a five-time English Women’s Super League champion.

Hayes, who was named as the USWNT’s incoming coach in November, capped a remarkable 12-year career at Chelsea with a 6-0 victory over Manchester United on Saturday, the final day of the WSL season.

Chelsea entered the day level on points with Manchester City and two ahead on goal difference, the first tiebreaker. With City playing simultaneously at Aston Villa, Hayes and Chelsea fans fastened their seat belts for what many expected to be a tense two hours.

But in a forceful first half, the Blues scored four goals and effectively buried both Manchester clubs within 45 minutes, sending off Hayes in style.

It had been an emotional week for the 47-year-old Englishwoman. Tears had welled up in her eyes. and weakened his voice during interviews. She had gave a set of personalized commemorative rings to his players. Engraved on the rings was the year he arrived at Chelsea, “2012”, when he took over an underfunded part-time team; and “2024”, the year she will leave the country as the dominant force in British women’s football.

Also prominently engraved on each ring were the words “WHAT LED US HERE,” a reference to Hayes’s training motto: “What got us here won’t get us there.”

The motto defined both his perpetual evolution at Chelsea and, now, his task in the United States.

It rang truer than ever during his final weeks and months in London. His talismanic forward, Sam Kerr, suffered a torn ACL in January. Kerr’s replacement, Mayra Ramírez, signed for a club-record fee from Levante, also battled injuries during the spring as the WSL title race tightened. And Hayes entered a crucial final month without his most dynamic playmaker, Lauren James, who was sidelined with a foot injury.

But Hayes and his team adapted. They bounced back after losing on May 1 to Liverpool. They won at Tottenham on Wednesday to move level with City at the top of the table. Then, Hayes made an important decision before Saturday’s decider: He started Ramirez, who hadn’t played in more than a month.

Ramírez rewarded his coach’s faith, intimidating the Man United defenders, dominating the first half, scoring two goals and assisting two others.

Hayes, sporting a sports jacket and custom Chelsea shoes, clenched his fists, repeatedly and euphorically, as the goals came one after another.

He pointed to the thousands of Chelsea fans who had traveled to Old Trafford in Manchester.

He also handled the game with aplomb.

The entire afternoon was a perfect summary of who she is and what she has done.

He is a kind, caring and psychologically astute person; and also a brilliant and pragmatic football coach.

“She has quite a character,” American and Chelsea forward Catarina Macario said last month. “But yeah, I mean, she’s just a serial winner.”

Saturday’s title was their seventh in the WSL and the last of five in a row. When the final whistle sounded, he hugged his coaching staff and then, one by one, his players. Captain and defender Millie Bright was the first. Bright cried as they hugged and kissed Hayes on the side of the head.

For Hayes, however, there will hardly be time to celebrate. In the coming days, she will fly across the Atlantic, stop on the East Coast of the United States and then travel to Colorado for her first USWNT training camp. She will name her first slate, which will meet on May 27, less than two months before the Olympics. She will officiate her first match in the United States, a friendly against Korea on June 1.

She will walk into the USWNT locker room and immediately command respect. She will implement her ideas and maybe even disrupt the American soccer ecosystem.

I didn’t need another trophy to do any of that. But, in the midst of her emotional farewell to him, he held one up anyway. That, of course, is what “serial winners” do.

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