We're building something – Hayes celebrates winning start as US boss

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Emma Hayes made a successful debut as the US women’s national team head coach as Mallory Swanson and Tierna Davidson both scored twice in a 4-0 friendly win over South Korea at DSG Park in Denver on Saturday.

The US team steadily found its rhythm, with Swanson and Davidson breaking through in the first half and again in the second period.

At times, Hayes paced along the touchline as she looked on. She clapped the 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 completing the Women’s Super League season with Chelsea. She is trying to quickly get to know her squad before picking a team for the Paris Olympic Games this summer.

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

A capacity crowd was in attendance at the 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.”

Captain Lindsey Horan nearly got the hosts off the mark midway through the first half, but the flag went up for offside just before her shot went in.

It was a sign, though, the team was starting to get on the same page.

Swanson opened the scoring in the 34th minute courtesy of a one-two with fellow Coloradan Sophia Smith.

In the 38th minute, Davidson doubled their lead and the defender scored again early in the second half, before Swanson added another in the 74th minute.

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

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

The two teams will meet again in a friendly in Minnesota on Tuesday.

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