The United States women's national team will close out the calendar year with a pair of friendlies against China. The matches are the first of the. Hayes had a brief introduction to the team, but will officially start on the sidelines in May, and Twila Kilgore will remain in the interim role until spring of 2024. for the upcoming games against China.
After a head coaching search that began in August, the USWNT have their next manager. The timeline for the Olympics is already short, and Hayes' arrival in May means a complex and collaborative plan for the national team moving forward. Kilgore has been in the interim role since Vlatko Andonovski's departure in August, and the team is undefeated in four games with her in charge.
The coaching carousel isn't unfamiliar to Trinity Rodman, who has now had several club coaches in her short introduction to playing professionally. She's had six different coaches between full-time and interim since the start of her NWSL career in 2021. Hayes will be her third head coach at the national team senior level but
"The [coaching] change and adapting to new things that [experience] helped me. I had no idea who was going to be the new coach and I think we all were just kind of waiting and seeing and kind of anticipating what was going to happen, just because things were kind of all over the place after the World Cup," she said.
"I didn't know her personally but I've talked to a lot of people who have known her, have been coached by her, so I heard all good things, their relationships, always good with her. She wants to win but she also caters to what the players' needs are and not just what her needs are to win. So when I found out I was really excited because I had never heard bad things about her which is great."
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The USWNT and China have a long competitive history that dates back two decades. The two programs are closing out the year in a bit of a reset, with the U.S. rebuilding with Hayes after an early round of 16 exit in the World Cup, and China's failure to advance out of their World Cup group. Still, it's the early days of a new beginning for the U.S. program, and Rodman and the group are already looking ahead with a new sense of invigoration after a brief meeting with Hayes.
"The introduction was great. She's amazing so far, it's only been two days, so there's only so much you can find out about a person and I never met her before so initial impressions have been really good," said Rodman.
'I think the biggest thing with her coming in is getting to know us as players because she's not going to be able to build the foundation or start anything with us if she doesn't really get to know us as people and know our characteristics on and off the field. So, I think that's one of the biggest things that she's tried to communicate with us going into camp."
Here's how to watch the upcoming games:
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- Date: Saturday, Dec. 2
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- Place: DRV PNK Stadium -- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- TV: TNT
- Stream: MAX
Players to watch
Less capped players: Kilgore and Hayes have brought Sam Coffey, Alyssa Thompson, and Savannah DeMelo back into the mix for this camp. Between them, the players have less than 20 appearances for the squad, and the final matches of the year could be a good opportunity to see them make a push toward the Olympics.
Trinity Rodman: The attacker had her NWSL season cut short on Decision Day as the Spirit were eliminated from 2023 playoff contention. She's seen her role on the national team expand this year, especially after an injury to Mallory Swanson, and she's often provided an offensive spark through unselfish, collaborative, play. She's scored six goals through her 26 appearances and is considered a part of the next era of national team players.
What they're saying
Rodman on playing under Kilgore: "I have respect for her because going from an assistant coach role to head coach is difficult, and you kind of have to coach differently and have a bigger responsibility," Rodman said during pregame media.
"So the transition she's made for that is insane. The work that she puts in is so respectable and admirable. So kudos to her for that. But the relationships [have] been good. She pushes me really hard. She pushes the team really hard, and with that, she knows the standard and she knows how and when to push certain players. She's not pushing every single player at the exact same moment, the exact same standard. I think she has such a good understanding of people and she knows what each individual needs which is really important."
The USWNT will want to close out their year on a high note, but the first game out of club season with new faces, less capped players, and a new coaching team might mean some periods of adjustment. Pick: USWNT 1, China 0.