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Washington Spirit bring back Mark Parsons as head coach

(Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

The Washington Spirit announced Monday that Mark Parsons will rejoin the team as its next head coach.

Parsons previously led the team from 2013 until 2015.

“Mark is one of the best coaches in the sport and we are thrilled to have him guiding our team as we start a new chapter,” Spirit president of soccer operations Mark Krikorian said. “After an extensive search process, we are confident that Mark’s experience and accomplishments are what we need as we continue to rebuild this club.”

The Spirit parted ways with head coach Kris Ward in August after an incident at the club’s training grounds in which Ward confronted a player. Prior to Ward’s dismissal, the team had been on a 17-match winless streak.

Parsons, 36, moved to the Thorns after his three years with the Spirit. He spent six years in Portland, winning the NWSL Shield in 2016 as well as the NWSL championship in 2017. He also helped the Thorns to the Challenge Cup title in 2021.

While the England native became manager of the Netherlands women’s national team in 2021, his tenure was short-lived. The Dutch team entered this summer’s Euros as the reigning champion but flamed out in the quarterfinals.

After the tournament, Parsons and the national team came to a joint decision to part ways.

A review of his performance revealed he had lost the confidence of his players. When Danielle van de Donk was asked after the loss what she had learned under Parsons, she said she would “think about that.”

The Spirit announced his hiring Monday, and Parsons said he is “grateful” to be able to return to Washington as head coach.

“We have a strong foundation of world-class players and we are going to build on that,” he said. “I am committed to assembling the best possible team with Mark Krikorian to perform at the highest level day in and day out.

“We will create a Spirit standard of excellence, one that D.C. and our supporters can proudly invest in. Michele [Kang] is building a world-class club and I am excited to be a part of it.”