Assessing Emma Hayes First Two Games as USWNT Manager

    When Emma Hayes first signed on to become the USWNT manager, expectations could not be higher for any manager in the sport of women’s soccer. There’s only one goal for Hayes and the United States: win Olympic Gold this summer and follow it up with a World Cup win in 2027.

    The USWNT took on South Korea in a pair of friendlies in Hayes’ debut. After outsourcing the Koreans 7-0 over the two games, it’s safe to say that Hayes’ performance as manager went as perfect as it could go. Here’s why.


    The Midfield is Coming Together

    Emma Hayes has already shown that she’s willing to experiment tactically to figure out the best combination of players. The first match saw the USWNT come out in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. The midfield duo of Lindsey Horan and Sam Coffey is starting to become incredibly strong together. The ability to distribute the ball while still playing physically and putting tough challenges in is what makes them both reliable in that position. 


    Less is More

    One thing that was evident was how freely the USWNT played. Hayes seems to have told the team to keep things simple. Watch all four goals they scored against South Korea; they all were relatively routine finishes for players of this caliber. Tierna Davidson scored two goals from set pieces, which has always been a strength for the national team.

    Both of Mallory Swanson’s goals required a simple ball through to her, but they were all within the flow of the game. No one tries to do too much, and sometimes, less is more. If the rest of the world has caught up, then we need to give the USWNT the proper credit for beating the 20th-ranked team in the world 4-0 without much trouble. 


    New Defensive Set-Up

    What’s great about the second game is that Emma Hayes tried a new formation with a new system, and they still easily won 3-0. The USWNT came out in a 3-5-2, and it could be the solution to maximizing the attacking players who have been converted to defenders.

    Crystal Dunn and Jenna Nighswonger as wing-backs flying down the sidelines where they can get more involved in attack only maximizes their skill set on the pitch. It’s a genius move from Hayes to put them both as wing-backs. This is why we also saw Sam Staab get her first cap, as she would be the third defender in that backline. Naomi Girma didn’t even play in this game, and the USWNT’s defense looked impregnable, with just three shots on target for the game. 


    The Newbie

    Hayes’ final stroke of genius was including Lily Yohannes in the team. Yohannes ended up making her mark on the game, winning Woman of the Match. Within a minute of coming on, she played this absurd pass, showing that she might just be way better than advertised for a 16-year-old. 


    That’s the pass of a superstar player that she picked out as if it was nothing, it needs to be given way more appreciation than what it got. If that wasn’t enough, she scored in her debut too. 


    Yohannes scoring was the perfect exclamation point on the two friendlies. It could not have gone any better for Emma Hayes and the USWNT. Hayes has come in with an immediate vision for how she wants this team to play, and there’s a ton of mutual respect between her and the players. With the team healed up and on strong footing with each other, they have the depth and talent to be the favorites to win gold in Paris this summer under Emma Hayes. 


    Featured image via Noel Danseco




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