Mark Parsons returns as Washington Spirit head coach ~ Washington

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The Washington Spirit hired Mark Parsons as their new coach on Monday, marking the return of one of women’s football’s biggest coaching names to the United States.

As coach and general manager from July 2013 through the end of the 2015 season, Parsons led the Spirit to two playoff appearances in the National Women’s Soccer League before taking the top job at Portland in 2016. The Thorns won a championship and two NWSL Shields in 2017 as the league’s top pick during Parsons’ five seasons in charge.

“Mark is one of the finest coaches in the sport and we’re thrilled to have him leading our team as we begin a new chapter,” said Spirit President Mark Krikorian. “After an extensive search process we are confident that Mark’s experience and achievements are what we need as we continue to build this club.”

Parsons, who was born in England, last coached the Netherlands women’s national team from September 2021 to August this year. Parsons, 36, was eliminated by mutual consent after the Netherlands were beaten in the quarter-finals of the European Women’s Championship.

The length and financial terms of Parsons’ contract were not immediately available.

The Spirit enjoyed a 3-10-9 season in which they finished 11th in the 12-team league. Kris Ward, who was in charge as interim manager when the club won the NWSL title in 2021, was sacked mid-season due to so-so results and a deteriorating relationship with the players.

Following Ward’s sacking in August, Washington appointed Albertin Montoya as caretaker manager. The Spirit went 3-2 in Montoya’s five competitive games; At the end of the season, Montoya returned to Northern California where he runs a youth club.

In elite youth football, the girls compete, but the men rule

The Spirit has made several off-season staff changes. United States defenseman Kelley O’Hara, who has spent the last two seasons in Washington, became a free agent and last week signed a multi-year deal with NJ/NY Gotham FC. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Amber Brooks and co-captain Tori Huster also entered free agency.

The club exercised contract options for defender Sam Staab, midfielders Jordan Baggett, Dorian Bailey, Bayley Feist and Anna Heilferty, and forwards Maddie Elwell and Tara McKeown. It expanded offers for defenders Camryn Biegalski and Julia Roddar, as well as midfielder Marissa Sheva.

Washington also added Morinao Imaizumi, a former assistant on Krikorian’s staff at Florida State and recently an assistant with the Chicago Red Stars, to its technical staff this month. Dawn Scott, who helped the US team win two World Cups where she oversaw sports science and physical performance, was named the club’s first director of performance, medicine and innovation on Nov. 1.

The Spirit has no pick for the first round of the NWSL draft, scheduled for January 12th. The league season begins on March 25th.

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