Mark Parsons, head coach of the NWSL Shield-winning Portland Thorns FC, was voted the National Women’s Soccer League Coach of the Year of 2016 by club officials, players, media and fans. This was Parsons’ first season with the Thorns, having previously coached the Washington Spirit after assuming head coaching duties midway through the league’s inaugural season. Parsons was a key part in the team’s turnaround from 2015, in which they finished sixth and missed the playoffs, to 2016’s first-place finish during the regular season.
And while the Thorns suffered a tough, emotional loss at home on Sunday to the Western New York Flash, who beat them 4-3 in extra time, there’s still plenty to be hopeful about in Portland.
After the semifinal loss, Parsons reviewed the Thorns’ season for media:
“I think we’ve shown and proven what a team is. Least conceded goals. One of the most attacking, high-goal scoring teams in the league. We score goals on set pieces. We score goals from great soccer. We score goals from multiple passes. We score goals from countering. From being direct and we have been very, very hard to breakdown and very hard to beat with our mindset, with our fight. I think the group has set the standard of what a team looks like and there are a lot players here, the whole roster, who have played a major role in making sure we move forward every day and that is what good teams do. Good teams move forward. It’s been a great season. If I could have dreamt about what a great season looked like I probably wouldn’t have dreamt it looked this good. It’s been fantastic. Now we go again to make this even better.”
— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) October 3, 2016
The award might have come after Portland’s season finished far earlier than they hoped, but for his role in talent management and coaxing the best out of his insanely talented roster, Parsons was an easy pick for those who voted for the award.