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Report: Ex-Spirit coach Kris Ward’s relationships with players had deteriorated

Kris Ward was fired Monday by the Washington Spirit. (Ira L. Black/Getty Images)

Former Washington Spirit coach Kris Ward’s relationships with several players had frayed this season ahead of his dismissal, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The Spirit relieved Ward of his duties as head coach, the team announced Monday via Twitter. The team has not offered any further explanation on the decision, and Ward declined to comment to the Washington Post.

Ward, 42, stepped into the role of interim head coach last August, taking over for Richie Burke, who was suspended and later fired following an investigation into abuse allegations.

During his tenure, Ward led the club to its first NWSL championship, and he was hired as the permanent head coach in December.

While the team has kept information of Ward’s firing under wraps, three sources told Washington Post reporter Steven Goff that Ward’s relationship with several players had been deteriorating this season. Ward was disinvited from a team retreat following a conflict at practice over the weekend, according to one source.

Washington has not won a game since its season opener on May 1. The club’s 17-game winless streak includes nine draws and six losses in the regular season, as well as a draw and a loss in the preseason Challenge Cup tournament.

The Spirit has not named an interim head coach, and the process will take at least a week due to background checks, the Washington Post reported. First-year assistant and former NWSL player Angela Salem will run practices.

The Athletic’s Pablo Iglesias Maurer reported “rumblings” that general manager Mark Krikorian could guide the team in its final four games, but he is not expected to replace Ward, a source told the Washington Post.