Mark Parsons, who guided the Washington Spirit to the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs the past two seasons, stepped down as head coach and general manager Wednesday to pursue another opportunity.
In an interview, Parsons said the decision was his, that he was “thankful for everything,” and that he hoped to be able to share information about his next job in the coming weeks.
In a Twitter message, Parsons wrote: “It has been an honor. … I know the club will continue incredible progress led by an amazing group of players.”
Equalizer Soccer reported Parsons will become the Portland Thorns coach. Paul Riley’s contract with the Thorns expired after this season.
Parsons, a native of England, coached in the Chelsea women’s program before overseeing the D.C. United Women Under-20 squad in 2012. He managed the Spirit’s reserve team in 2013 and, when Spirit coach Mike Jorden was fired midway through the inaugural season, Parsons was promoted. At the end of the year, the club named him the general manager as well.
After finishing last in 2013 with a 3-14-5 record, the Spirit was fourth in each of the past two seasons with an 18-15-11 combined record in the nine-team league. Both times, the top-seeded Seattle Reign eliminated Washington in the semifinals.
“On behalf of the Spirit organization, we’d like to thank Mark for his tremendous efforts to build a championship team from the pros to the academy,” Ashlee Comber, Washington’s vice president of operations, said in a written statement. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside Mark. He is an amazing human being, and we wish him and his family all the best.”
Parsons lives with his family in Culpeper, Va., a 170-mile daily roundtrip to the Spirit’s base at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.
The NWSL’s third season will conclude Thursday with Seattle facing FC Kansas City in a championship rematch in Portland, Ore. (9:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).