Coach Emma Hayes makes successful debut with US women’s national team in 4-0 win over South Korea – Metro US

Coach Emma Hayes makes successful debut with US women’s national team in 4-0 win over South Korea

South Korea US Soccer
United States women’s national team head coach Emma Hayes waves to fans before facing South Korea in an international friendly soccer game, Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) — The new coach had one overriding instruction for her new players: Pay attention to the little things.

It’s a message taken to heart.

Emma Hayes made a successful debut with the U.S. women’s national team, watching Mallory Swanson and Tierna Davidson both score twice in a 4-0 win over South Korea on Saturday in a friendly match.

The U.S. squad steadily found its rhythm by doing all the little things. It paid off with Swanson and Davidson breaking through in the first half and again in the second.

“You can see we’re building something,” Hayes said. “There’s lots of work to do. There’s lots of holes in our play, no question, but it was a good start.”

At times, Hayes paced along the coaching box as she looked on. She clapped on goals and near-misses. Sometimes, she retreated over to the bench to chat with assistant coach Twila Kilgore.

The 47-year-old Hayes was brought on board in November, but joined the team this week in Colorado after finishing out the Women’s Super League season with Chelsea. She’s trying to quickly learn the roster before picking a team for the Paris Games this summer.

Hayes’ mission is simple: Restore the dominance to a U.S. team that’s coming off a disappointing finish in last year’s Women’s World Cup. The early exit led to coach Vlatko Andonovski resigning from the U.S. team.

Hayes didn’t feel any sort of pressure Saturday, either. Or the slightest hint of nerves.

“I get to enjoy these amazing players,” Hayes explained. “I just feel re-energized and I want to coach this group and they want to be coached.”

A capacity crowd showed up at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to cheer on a lineup with an average age of 25.5 years, the youngest Starting XI for the USWNT in more than two years. One fan brought a sign that read, “In Emma We Trust.”

The win improved the U.S. women’s national team to 12-0-4 in games against South Korea. The teams will meet again Tuesday in a friendly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Captain Lindsey Horan nearly got the U.S. on the scoreboard midway through the first half. But the flag went up for offsides just before her shot went in.

It was a sign, though, the team was getting on the same page.

Swanson scored in the 34th minute courtesy of a give-and-go with fellow Coloradan Sophia Smith. In the 38th minute, Davidson made it 2-0. The defender scored early in the second half and Swanson added another in the 74th minute.

It was a big day for Swanson as she continues to make her way back from a serious knee injury. She rented out a suite for the game and had around 30 people watching her play.

“I was just super-thankful that I could play in front of them again,” Swanson said. “That I could play on this team, because you never know when is the last time you could play.”

It was a busy day for South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi, who faced constant shots and traffic.

Earlier in the day at the stadium, the U.S. women’s deaf national team beat Australia 11-0 behind a six-goal performance from Emily Spreeman. It marked the first U.S. extended national team doubleheader with the senior national squad.

Hayes and the team are gradually getting to know one another. She’s meeting with all her players in 15-minute segments and hopes to have the chats finished soon.

There’s not a whole lot of time before Hayes has to pick an 18-player roster for the Paris Games. She could select the team before a pair of friendlies leading into the Olympics, one against Mexico at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on July 13, and another versus Costa Rica at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., on July 16.

“It feels like we’re in a really good place,” Smith said. “I’m happy with how it went and I’m happy with the place the team is in.”

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer