The Portland Thorns confirmed today that head coach Mark Parsons will leave the team at the end of the season to become the head coach of the Netherlands women’s national team.
The rumor was first circulated via Dutch outlet RTV Utrecht earlier this month. Parsons will replace Sarina Wiegman, who coached the Netherlands to the 2019 World Cup final. Wiegman herself is slated to take over as England women’s head coach after the Olympics. Parsons will have some immediate tests, as he’ll be at the helm for World Cup qualifiers this fall, and then for the Euros in 2022. If you’re wondering how Parsons can take over for the Netherlands in September while the NWSL regular season doesn’t end until the end of October, the Netherlands announcement has said that Parsons will combine the two jobs, implying he and the Netherlands coaching staff will simply be dealing with the two overlapping.
Under Parsons, the Thorns have found continued success, and in 2021 easily look like the team to beat for top prize.
“I am incredibly thankful for the support and understanding of Merritt [Paulson] and Gavin [Wilkinson] throughout this process,” said Parsons via team press release. “They truly treat this team as family and their leadership continues to set the standard. I am more focused and committed than ever to helping our players and staff reach our goals and bring joy to our fans this season.”
“It feels incredible to be a part of a team that’s achieved some special results but also knowing that this team ahs so much ambition and the future looks incredible. To join this project, to be a part of something that is really pushing boundaries in the women’s game is something I’ve dreamt of,” Parsons said via the Netherlands’ own announcement.
Parsons said in that announcement, “I think for most people, they probably weren’t expecting me to leave the opportunity that I’m currently doing.... But when one of the leading nations who’ve developed some of the best players in the women’s and men’s game, some of the very best coaches in the women’s and men’s game, calls you, it’s a unique opportunity.” He also discussed how his family would be closer to their families in England, which was attractive particularly after the enforced separation brought about by COVID.
“This is not what we were expecting to be managing at this stage of the season,” said Thorns GM Gavin Wilkinson, also via team press release. “However collectively we are in agreement with Mark’s decision as it is best for him and his family. We remain 100% committed to the 2021 season with Mark at the helm and appreciate the way in which this has been managed from the KNVB and Mark. The process for hiring a new head coach will start in the coming months and we plan to appoint the next head coach at the conclusion of the season.”
The Thorns hiring process will no doubt attract heavy interest; the team is often cited as an attractive destination for multiple factors, and a new head coach would be inheriting a roster stacked with superstars, even accounting for the possibility of post-Olympic retirements.
Who would you like to see take over as head coach for the Thorns? How do you think Parsons will do with the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!