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USWNT 3, China 0: The shape-shifting Emma Hayes era begins

Even with Hayes not on the sideline, the first US game since her appointment showed off a more fluid system

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Emma Hayes watched the United States women’s national team’s 3-0 win over China on Saturday game from 4,400 miles away, but her presence was felt in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, well before the opening whistle.

One look at the U.S. lineup on paper revealed change, and a few minutes of player revealed just how drastic it was. TV graphics listed a 4-3-3, the general U.S. formation of choice for the past six years.

Reality was very different.

In the team’s first game since Hayes was named the new head coach, the United States played in a fluid system that looked a world removed from the rigidity that plagued the U.S. at the 2023 World Cup. The Americans exited in the Round of 16 for the first time.

Hayes will not take over on the sidelines for another six months, instead working remotely in tandem with interim coach Twila Kilgore to build toward the 2024 Olympics. Hayes was in training camp for a few days this week, however, and the change was clear on the field on Saturday.

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