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News / Sports / Soccer

Thorns hire Parsons as coach

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: October 5, 2015, 9:31pm

The Portland Thorns should never allow teams visiting Providence Park a to be comfortable.

That is the opinion of the man whose job it will be to make the Thorns as successful on the field as the National Women’s Soccer League franchise has been off the field. That man is Mark Parsons.

The 29-year-old native of England was introduced on Monday as the third coach in the Thorns brief history. Parsons replaces Paul Riley, who was not retained at the end of the 2015 season, his second in Portland.

Parsons agreed to a multiple-year contract to coach the Thorns, according to general manager Gavin Wilkinson.

Parsons coached the NWSL’s Washington Spirit the past two-plus seasons, guiding the team to the playoffs in 2014 and 2015 after Washington won only three games in 2013.

Parsons was also the general manager in Washington. Wilkinson will continue as the Thorns GM, but said Parsons will take the lead role in roster decisions.

“I think he’ll keep me very honest and it will drive this team forward,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said the Thorns interviewed several candidates from overseas, but decided that having a coach who understands the NWSL was vital.

Part of Parsons’ job will be to put an entertaining team on the field, Wilkinson said — a team that can be the aggressor.

Parsons said that the large crowds at Providence Park should provide a significant advantage.

“Playing in this environment is very tough for an away team, and with that vibe at home I think that (the opponent) shouldn’t have the opportunity to have a second to breathe,” Parsons said. “Make sure the opposition are doing more work off the ball and running around than they have to in any other stadium.”

Parsons coached youth academies in England for Chelsea FC between 2004 and 2010. From 2008-10 he was the head coach for the Chelsea Ladies Reserves. He coached the D.C. United Women Under-20 team and the Washington Spirit Reserves before taking over as the Spirit head coach in July of 2013.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter