USWNT begins new era with Emma Hayes in match against South Korea

This will be the first game against the South Koreans in a series of matches
USWNT Training
USWNT Training / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

Today, the U.S. women's national soccer team takes the field for the first of two friendlies against South Korea, marking the beginning of a new era under the leadership of head coach Emma Hayes. Aiming to regain their glory after a disappointing campaign in the last World Cup, the team is eager to show the world they are ready for new challenges and achievements.

Emma Hayes has had to split her attention between Chelsea, her former team, and the USWNT, spending the last six months implementing her plans remotely. Her focus? To apply her style of play without losing the "American DNA" that characterizes the USWNT. The English coach is not afraid to change the tactical scheme, even during games, if she sees things are not going as planned. At Chelsea, she employed various tactical setups such as 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 5-2-1-2, 3-4-3, and even 3-4-1-2. This pre-Olympic friendly is the first opportunity for fans to see how Hayes will shape the team for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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South Korea, currently ranked 20th by FIFA, may seem like a modest opponent for the fourth-ranked USWNT. However, matches like these are crucial for Hayes to test new systems and strengthen the chemistry among the players. "This team is desperate to improve," said Hayes, emphasizing the athletes' commitment to absorbing new tactics and strategies.

Saturday's game, June 1st, will be held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, home of the Colorado Rapids. The USWNT has never lost to South Korea, with a record of 11 wins and 4 draws in 15 previous encounters. However, Hayes is not underestimating the opponent. "No matter the amount of information thrown at the players, they are taking it in and absorbing it," she said. The coach sees these games as an opportunity to evaluate the players and adjust the team to compete at the highest level. To help with this, she relies on a trio that has contributed to 40% of the team's goals since the start of 2023: Lindsey Horan and forwards Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson.

With less than two months until the Olympics, each match is a valuable chance to prepare the squad. South Korea, although never having qualified for the Olympics, has World Cup experience and can offer a good test for the Americans.

Hayes has until the end of July to fine-tune the team and ensure they are ready for the challenges in Paris. "An opportunity to learn about the players, learn about their tactical understanding, see where their technique is, expose them to a strategic setup," explained Hayes about her approach.

Expectations are high, but the potential for redemption is even greater. Fans eagerly await to see how Hayes' vision will transform the team and lead the USWNT back to the top of the world of women's soccer.