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Chelsea's coach Emma Hayes directs her team during the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match between Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona in Gothenburg, Sweden, on May 16, 2021.Martin Meissner/The Associated Press

Chelsea’s Emma Hayes was formally named the new head coach of the U.S. women’s team Tuesday but she won’t take over the four-time Women’s World Cup winners until May, leaving her a short time with the team before it begins play in the Paris Olympics in late July.

Interim coach Twila Kilgore will continue to lead the team until Hayes’ arrival after the Women’s Super League season ends, and then she will become one of her assistants.

“This is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in world football history,” Hayes said in a prepared statement. “The feelings and connection I have for this team and for this country run deep. I’ve dreamed about coaching the USA for a long time so to get this opportunity is a dream come true. I know there is work to do to achieve our goals of winning consistently at the highest levels.”

Financial terms of her contract were not made public, but U.S. Soccer said Hayes is set to become “the highest paid women’s soccer coach in the world.”

Chelsea had announced this month that the 47-year-old Hayes was leaving the defending league champions at the end of the season to “pursue a new opportunity outside of the WSL and club football.” Hayes has won 14 major trophies at Chelsea, including six WSL titles.

Ahead of Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Everton last weekend, Hayes would not comment on speculation she had agreed to terms with the U.S. She said she was stepping down to spend more time with her 5-year-old son, citing both long hours and a lengthy commute.

She will succeed Vlatko Andonovski, who resigned following the poor showing by the Americans in this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The United States, which had won two straight World Cups, fell on penalties after a scoreless draw with Sweden in the Round of 16, the earliest-ever exit for the Americans in the tournament.

The United States had never finished worse than third at previous World Cups.

Andonovski, who was named U.S. coach in October, 2019, finished 51-5-9 with the team, and was 3-2-5 in major tournaments. Last month, he was named coach of the Kansas City Current in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Kilgore, an assistant on Andonovski’s U.S. team staff, took over after his departure.

The United States has just two remaining exhibition matches this season, against China on Dec. 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Dec. 5 in the Dallas area.

Once Hayes takes over, she will have just four exhibition matches with the U.S. before the Olympics. She is the 10th full-time head coach for the American women.

Other candidates considered for the job included former U.S. assistant Tony Gustavsson, who is currently coach of Australia’s women’s team, and Laura Harvey, coach of OL Reign in the NWSL. U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker led the global search.

“Emma is a fantastic leader and world class coach who sets high standards for herself and for everyone around her,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. “She has tremendous energy and an insatiable will to win. Her experience in the USA, her understanding of our soccer landscape and her appreciation of what it means to coach this team makes her a natural fit for this role and we could not be more pleased to have her leading our Women’s National Team forward.”

Hayes has led Chelsea to two domestic league and cup doubles and one trophy treble since taking over the team in 2012. She will have the chance to win a seventh WSL title before she departs Chelsea, which currently sits atop the league with a 5-0-1 record.

Hayes, who grew up in London, previously coached in the United States with the Long Island Lady Riders and Iona College. She joined the Chicago Red Stars in the inaugural year of the Women’s Professional Soccer league in 2008, selecting Megan Rapinoe with the second pick in the first draft. She also served as technical director of the New York Flash in WPS.

“I fully understand the place this team has in U.S. society. I’ve lived it. I remember being a young coach working my way up through the system in the U.S. and watching all those young girls aspire to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team,” Hayes said in the statement. “For me, the honour in building on that legacy is part of my motivation, no question.”

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