U.S. Soccer embracing Hayes’ ‘bold, brave’ vision


U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker said that the United States women can evolve into a side that is “bold and brave” and adept in possession under new manager Emma Hayes.

Crocker, on a Zoom call with reporters, made his first public comments about the hiring of Hayes since it was announced last week, including the unusual arrangement that will have Hayes see out the current club season with Chelsea and then take over the USWNT in May.

In the meantime, Twila Kilgore will remain in her role as interim manager that will include plenty of collaboration with Hayes. Crocker said he remains “hopeful” that Hayes will be on hand to observe — but not actually coach — the team during the upcoming camp, one that includes a pair of friendlies against China on Dec. 2 and Dec. 6. He is of similar mind when it comes to camps held in the first half of 2024.

“It’s not ideal, as we know that Emma can’t start with us straight away,” Crocker said. “But from my perspective, what was important is that we got the best candidate for the long term rather than the wrong candidate for the short term. This is the soonest that we can get Emma, being respectful to her, the job that she has to do with Chelsea, the contract situation with Chelsea.”

Crocker also said that he has confidence in Kilgore to manage the day-to-day aspects of the team.

“I’m really, really confident that working with Twila, we can pull together an outstanding plan to prepare this team for the Olympics in the short term,” Crocker said. “But also for this team to start to evolve and develop and under Twila’s leadership to be ready and strong for the long term.”

That evolution will bear watching going forward. In an editorial for The Telegraph shortly after the U.S. team’s elimination from the Women’s World Cup, Hayes claimed problems in the development pipeline that left the USWNT “massively short of creative talent.”

That issue is one in which a national team manager has limited influence. Coaches only have so much control over who enters the player pool, as well as the style implemented within youth clubs.

However, Crocker still feels that the issue is one in which Hayes can help the USWNT improve.

“I think with good coaching, with the right tactics to evolve this team in particularly with an in-possession style and also making sure that the players that come in feel like they’ve got the freedom to create and be themselves is going to be critically important,” he said.

“And both Emma and Twila have got that in [their] coaching, as will all our technical team. We want the team to be bold and brave going forward and dynamic, but we also want to become a very possession based team and we feel like as if this team can evolve into that with the skills of both Emma and Twila.”


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