The Portland Timbers have hired 29-year-old Mark Parsons
as their new head coach less than a week after he left NWSL rival Washington Spirit, which he had led
to the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. Parson replaces Paul Riley
, whose contract was not extended after the 2015 season.
"We are excited to announce
Mark as the new head coach of Thorns FC," said Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson
in a statement. "His coaching philosophy, skill set and personality are a
very good fit for the organization and we are excited to see what he can do with the considerable resources he will have. Mark is a well-respected, ambitious young coach with experience and
understanding of the NWSL -- all attributes we believe essential to success."
Parsons finished with an overall record of 20-24-13 at Washington. He was working as the coach of the Spirit
Reserves when he was promoted to replace Mike Jorden
in 2013. He turned around the Spirit, though, after a last-place finish in the NWSL's inaugural season. It
lost in the semifinals of the playoffs in 2014 and 2015.
He came to the United States from England after working in Chelsea's women's program. He was the head coach of Chelsea Ladies
Reserve and worked in Chelsea Ladies’ centre of excellence as the director of its program for girls under-10 to under-16.
"I am honored and grateful to be given the opportunity by
[Thorns owner] Merritt Paulson
and Gavin Wilkinson to take over as head coach of the Thorns," said Parsons in a statement. "During my visits and time here I
have developed a strong admiration for the fans, the city and their passion for soccer. I am excited to get started with the players and commit to holding the highest possible standards of excellence
in everything that we do. I can't wait to hear that first roar from the Riveters in 2016."
In two seasons with the Thorns, Riley had a 16-17-11 record. They made the playoffs in 2014 but
slumped in 2015, finishing sixth in the NWSL standings with a squad heavy on Women's World Cup talent.
Former U.S. national team star Cindy Parlow
coached the Thorns to the NWSL title in the league's first season, then resigned for personal reasons.