Teamwork makes the dream work

The Emma Hayes period for the U.S. Ladies’s Nationwide Group has begun


NEW YORK — At some point, Emma Hayes could have time for a correct trip.

Final Saturday, she put the cherry on prime of an epic 12-year profession at Chelsea by main the London membership she constructed from the bottom as much as its seventh general — and fifth consecutive — Ladies’s Tremendous League title. Then, on Wednesday, she flew to New York Metropolis with a brand new title in hand: United States ladies’s nationwide crew head coach. 

Hayes is diving head first into a brand new job with the Paris Olympics a mere two months away. She was formally employed by U.S. Soccer again in November however wished to complete out Chelsea’s season earlier than totally committing. Now that chapter has closed, and Hayes, who’s at all times up for a problem, will face her subsequent one: to revive the four-time World Cup champion USWNT to its successful methods. 

“After all, in a perfect world, everyone would like to be sitting on a seashore someplace now for a few weeks,” Hayes joked Thursday afternoon throughout a roundtable dialogue with a small group of reporters on the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League workplaces in Manhattan.

“However my perspective is absolutely clear,” she continued. “You do not get many alternatives to go to an Olympics in your life. And so I solely wanted a day without work on Sunday — I had a celebration for 40 individuals, most of them six-year-olds — to remind me that I am unable to wait to return to work.”

This was a Star Wars themed celebration, thoughts you, and Hayes stated Luke Skywalker was there. Now there are “extra Star Wars items than I look after in my home,” Hayes stated with a chuckle.

Following Hayes’ last match with Chelsea — a 6-0 blowout win over Manchester United to clinch the WSL title — she informed reporters that she “categorically can not stick with it. I haven’t got one other drop to provide, no matter it’s.” However what she meant by that was that she couldn’t proceed in the identical capability as she has for thus lengthy at Chelsea. 

Managing the USWNT is totally different and has lengthy been Hayes’ dream job. She began her profession stateside and lived in New York for seven years. She labored her method up from teaching boys’ youth groups, to a ladies’s novice crew, to the ladies’s crew at Iona Faculty, to the Chicago Pink Stars, the place she drafted and briefly coached Megan Rapinoe.

Now it is all “coming full circle,” stated Hayes, who made positive to get at the least two walks in Central Park whereas visiting New York Metropolis this week.

“My journey has been backside up,” Hayes stated. “I’ve labored arduous to get thus far, and you could possibly dream for one thing — all of us have goals — nevertheless it’s not typically your goals develop into a actuality. And I at all times grew up with that notion, this entire ‘American Dream’ idea which you could come to a rustic, work in a sure method, and to work my method up by means of the system to be now the pinnacle coach of the U.S. ladies’s nationwide crew. 

“I’ll give it completely every little thing I’ve bought to ensure I uphold the traditions of this crew.”

Hayes is a “serial winner” — that is the time period U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker used when he employed her. She gained 16 trophies in 12 years at Chelsea, together with seven WSL titles and 5 FA Cups. She was honored with an MBE and OBE by the late Queen Elizabeth II — honors of the very best order in the UK — for her companies to soccer. She is aware of the right way to get the perfect out of her gamers, units excessive expectations for herself and for her groups, and takes satisfaction in leaving issues in a greater place than she discovered them.

“I take as a lot satisfaction in that as I do successful,” Hayes stated.

Now the query is, will that successful translate to the worldwide stage? It turned broadly obvious that the USWNT was in determined want of change after its shockingly early exit within the spherical of 16 ultimately summer season’s FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Moreover, the squad hasn’t gained a gold medal on the Olympics since 2012. 

“If we are able to carry out at our greatest stage, then we’ve an opportunity of doing issues,” Hayes stated. “However we have got work to do. 

“The realities are the world recreation is the place it’s and the remainder of the world don’t worry the USA in the best way that they as soon as did. And that is legitimate. So it is our job to understand, fairly rapidly, what we have to do to get shut once more to these ranges.”

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Earlier this week, Hayes named a 23-player roster for upcoming friendlies in opposition to Korea Republic on June 1 in Denver and June 4 in St. Paul, Minn., which will probably be her first matches on the USWNT sideline. This would be the solely camp she’ll have earlier than choosing 18 gamers for the Olympic roster. Nonetheless, she made it clear that “the roster isn’t decided. It’s totally a lot open,” Hayes stated.

Whereas all of this would possibly seem to be a frightening and fast turnaround, Hayes is detail- and process-oriented. She has her workers assembled — which incorporates former interim head coach Twila Kilgore in addition to 5 members from her Chelsea workers — and can meet with them Saturday in Denver earlier than the gamers arrive Monday. Hayes has a construction and timeline in place, and he or she stated every little thing is deliberate out for the months of June and July.

Plus, Kilgore has fast-tracked Hayes and briefed her on all types of issues over the previous six months. From World Cup learnings to choice course of to CBA to traditions to tradition to kits and extra, Hayes is now fairly well-versed in all issues USWNT.

“I wish to know and ensure to take care of and uphold the appropriate issues,” Hayes stated. “[Twila and I have] been on many lengthy calls late at night time, actually been to mattress fairly late the previous couple of months. However she’s been a humongous assist.”

Hayes has additionally scheduled one-on-ones with every participant throughout camp so she will begin attending to know them on a private stage. She is aware of a couple of — Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel play for Chelsea now, and Crystal Dunn had a stint with the membership in 2017 and 2018. 

“I wish to construct belief,” Hayes stated. “I wish to come from a spot the place belief is the muse. I wish to construct a household surroundings that everyone takes care of one another. 

“And I acknowledge this system’s historical past and I’ve admired so many issues that the gamers have executed through the years to advocate, not only for themselves, however for the issues and causes that matter most. I do not wish to change these issues, however I additionally wish to ensure that everyone understands that every little thing we do, we’ve to ask ourselves, ‘Is that this serving to the crew win?’ That is what my focus will probably be.”

The Hayes period has now — formally — begun.

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Laken Litman covers faculty soccer, faculty basketball and soccer for FOX Sports activities. She beforehand wrote for Sports activities Illustrated, USA At present and The Indianapolis Star. She is the writer of “Sturdy Like a Lady,” revealed in spring 2022 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX. Observe her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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