Chelsea boss Hayes to leave at end of season

The U.S. Soccer Federation is in advanced talks with Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes to be the next manager of the U.S. women’s national team, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Chelsea coach Hayes is to leave the club at the end of the Women’s Super League (WSL) season “to pursue a new opportunity outside the WSL and club football,” the club announced in a statement following a 6-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Saturday.

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The Equalizer and Backheeled were the first to report the news.

U.S. Soccer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but a Federation source told ESPN that an “emergency board” meeting was being planned, and would take place in the coming days.

The expectation is that if Hayes is hired, she will juggle both the USWNT and Chelsea jobs until the conclusion of the WSL season. While the plan is for Hayes to join up with the USWNT during international windows, there are potential conflicts.

The CONCACAF W Gold Cup is set to run from Feb. 20 until March 10, a period in which Chelsea has league matches against Manchester City on Feb. 18 and Leicester City on March 3. There are also questions about how juggling two jobs would impact the USWNT’s preparations for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The possible capture of Hayes would be a coup for U.S. Soccer. Hayes is widely viewed as one of the top managers in the women’s game.

The London native began her managerial career in 2001 with Long Island Lady Riders of the U.S.-based USL W-League. She later coached with Iona College from 2003-06, and then moved to the professional ranks with Arsenal as an assistant from 2006-08. Her first head-coaching role was with the Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer — the precursor to the NWSL — from 2008-10, which was followed by a move to Chelsea in 2012, where she has been since.

In her time with the West London club, Hayes led Chelsea to six WSL titles, five women’s FA Cups, and two FA Women’s League Cups.

“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,” Chelsea co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in a statement.

“There will be plenty of time to celebrate Emma’s many achievements at the club and to give her the farewell she deserves, but for now, as she always has been, Emma will be solely focused on making this season as successful as possible for Chelsea.”

On Saturday, Chelsea had six different players on the scoresheet as they hammered Aston Villa 6-0 to go top of the table on 13 points after five games, three ahead of second-placed Man City, who face Arsenal on Sunday.

Hayes been named FA WSL Manager of the Season six times, and the League Managers Association Manager of the Year five times. She was named Best Football Coach by FIFA in 2021.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report

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