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18 March 2024 Jessica Burtzos
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U.S. women’s captain Lindsey Horan has described Emma Hayes as “one of the most intelligent coaches” and believes the Englishwoman can transform the team in several ways when she takes over shortly before the 2024 Paris Olympics.

U.S. Soccer announced in November that Hayes will take charge of the U.S. two months before the July 26-August 11 Olympic Games after she leaves Chelsea at the end of this season.

Hayes was hired after Vlatko Andonovski resigned as the coach following the USWNT’s early World Cup exit last year.

After successive triumphs in 2015 and 2019, the U.S. were expected to complete a “three-peat” of titles at the 2023 World Cup, but they were knocked out in the last 16, losing to Sweden on penalties.

Following their World Cup disappointment, Hayes will be tasked with changing the fortunes of the U.S. team, which is currently being managed by interim coach Twila Kilgore.

Having led Chelsea to six Women’s Super League titles, including the last four in a row, Hayes has proven to be an influential coach in the women’s game.

“It’s going to be interesting because Emma has so much experience in the women's game and she has done such incredible things with a top-tier team like Chelsea,” Horan tells me.

“So I'm sure that she's ready to take over for us and implement so many different things that maybe we're not even aware of.”

Hayes, who turned Chelsea into a dominant force in English women’s football, also led them to the Women’s Champions League final in 2021, the same year she was named FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year.

The USWNT job will be the first time Hayes will manage a national team, although she has worked previously in the U.S. at the club level, with Long Island Lady Riders, Iona Gaels and the Chicago Red Stars.

“She's one of the most intelligent coaches who are around. I have heard nothing but the best about her,” Horan added.

“Maybe on the tactical side of things, it's going to be amazing for us because we need to improve and find different ways to win, especially in a major tournament when things aren't going our way and we need to change something in the game.

“I think she has a presence and leadership that we need. The main thing as an athlete is that you want to continuously be learning and who better than Emma Hayes and our team manager? I'm really excited about that.”

Olympic Dream

The U.S. team is undergoing a period of transition under interim coach Kilgore, who led them to the CONCACAF W Gold Cup victory last week. The Americans lifted the trophy after beating Brazil in the final, thanks to a goal by skipper Horan.

“Oh my gosh, it was amazing to lift that trophy in the end,” Horan said, reflecting on the winning moment. “I think it was a very challenging tournament for myself and my team. Each game we grew in a different way, and we had some obstacles along the way. So I'm really proud of the team.

“I'm proud of my performance in the final and getting the goal, I think it was something that was just needed in that period, so I was really happy I could contribute.”

The Gold Cup triumph will help boost the team’s spirits, as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Games. At the last Games in Tokyo in 2021, the U.S. won bronze.

Horan, particularly, is eager to win the Olympic gold medal - which is perhaps the only major medal missing from her vast collection.

The 29-year-old midfielder, who has 144 international appearances, has won the World Cup twice with the U.S. and several titles in club football in U.S. and France, including the Women’s Champions League with Lyon.

“I don't have a gold medal from the Olympic Games, we obviously won bronze last Olympics and nothing to take away from that. But I think we felt we could have just done so much more. We could have been better, that wasn't our standard of play,” Horan said.

“And so I think for me, it's just it's really exciting to go into this Olympics and have another chance to get on the podium and win a gold medal. We will do everything in our power, and I will do everything in my power to help the team and impact in the best way possible.”

Horan thinks she has a special connection with France, having lifted the 2019 World Cup and many other titles with Lyon there.

“It is wild that I have won a lot of trophies here. So maybe, maybe it is like a secret, you know, luck charm for me. So I hope that is the case [during the Olympics],” she said, with a smile.

Cheribundi Investment

When not playing on the football field, Horan is busy making business moves.

The U.S. captain is an investor in Cheribundi, a performance wellness brand. Cheribundi's beverage line is centered around the antioxidant power of tart cherries, which have been shown to impact sleep, recovery, and overall mental and physical health.

Lindsey joined the brand in 2022 as one of the company’s first-ever athlete investors. She says she was first introduced to the product during her early days with the USWNT and now frequently uses it to recover from practices, matches, and overall travel.

“It’s one of the most vital things in my recovery,” said Horan, who is also a brand ambassador.”

“Early on in my professional career, I wasn't the best with my recovery and the things that I was putting in my body. I was just doing it because I was told to do it. I think nowadays, it's just so important for me [because] as you get older, everything matters.

“Cheribundi helps with inflammation for me, especially with my body and how much I go through with travel…It’s a part of my routine and my team, Lyon, is using it after every game as well. It's really cool.”

Cheribundi’s products are predominately used by the USWNT trainers and nutritionists who highly recommend them to the players.

Asked why she chose to invest in the brand, Horan said: “I think that's something that I've like always had in my career was like, I want to actually believe in something that I'm working with. So I think that was exciting for me [to invest in Cheribundi].

“You come around our national team, and you see it in our coolers, and recovery room, like Cheribundi is everywhere, which is amazing. It's my brand!”


Read the full article by  on Forbes.

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