Soccer-New U.S. manager Hayes will bring winning mentality for Paris, say players

Soccer Football - Women's Super League - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - March 15, 2024 Chelsea manager Emma Hayes celebrates after the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Emma Hayes will bring a winning spirit to the United States women's national soccer team at the Paris Games this summer after a pair of disappointing Olympic outings, U.S. players said on Monday.

The Americans want to exorcise the demons of their disastrous World Cup last year and return to the top of the Olympic podium when they travel to Paris after having to settle for bronze in Tokyo and leaving Rio empty handed.

Few appear better suited to the task than Hayes, the architect behind Chelsea's dominance in English women's football whose hiring by the U.S. national team prompted enormous celebration amongst American fans.

"She's a serial winner," said defender Crystal Dunn, who previously played under Hayes for Chelsea. "She tactically knows what it takes to win."

Hayes will have little time with the four-times gold medallists before the Games kick off in July, making her coaching debut in June for two friendlies against South Korea.

She visited the U.S. players at an early camp this year but has not had any contact since, veteran Emily Sonnett told reporters on Monday appearing with her team mates in New York at the Team USA media summit.

"We're still going to have to get to know her," said midfielder Rose Lavelle "She has such a winning mentality, such a winning resume so we're so excited for her to come into the environment and to learn from her and for her to push this team to a new height."

The team's 2024 got off on the right start as they triumphed at the CONCACAF W Gold Cup and beat Canada on penalties in the SheBelieves Cup final last week.

Their most recent win came with added meaning, after eventual champions Canada beat the U.S. in the Tokyo Olympic semi-final in 2021.

Dunn, who will play in her third Olympics if she makes the cut for Paris, said few people understood just how hard a road it was even to place third in Tokyo.

"Outside looking in it was like, 'Oh, what a failure, the U.S. didn't win'," said Dunn. "They don't know the challenges that we went through, the challenges that we overcame in the tournament."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, additional reporting by Aleksandra Michalska; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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