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Freedom, Gabarra require patience in league of parity

The Washington Freedom has now lost four straight games as part of a bigger nine-game winless streak after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss on the road to the Atlanta Beat.

Captain and center back Cat Whitehill watched Wednesday’s match from the bench as Freedom Head Coach Jim Gabarra searched for answers, but those answers were not found.  Many are calling for changes that send much more of a message than just benching players, and it seems those could be coming.  Obviously, many are asking the question of whether or not it is time for a coaching change at the Maryland SoccerPlex and while that is a legitimate question to ask, there is something to be said for patience.

As recently as a month ago, fans of respective teams put Atlanta Beat Head Coach Gareth O’Sullivan and Boston Breakers Head Coach Tony DiCicco under fire.  Now, Atlanta and Boston are two of the hottest teams in the league.  Boston has won four of its last five games and Atlanta is now on a three-game winning streak.

While Washington is winless in its last nine and has not tasted victory since May 30, the Breakers went through their own nine game winless streak and one that lasted almost three months.  But Boston management stuck with the respected DiCicco and are currently thriving.  It is a lesson that continues to be taught in Women’s Professional Soccer: There is something to be said for patience.  Five teams are now separated by just three points in the standings, meaning Washington is still completely in the thick of things.

Gabarra has been at the helm of the Freedom since 2000 and through three different leagues.  He led the Freedom to the 2003 WUSA Championship and the 2007 W-League Championship and has ten years of experience in the organization.  That alone demands some patience with Gabarra, but the question revolves around exactly how long patience will last.  Saturday’s match between the Freedom and the Breakers in Boston could be decisive.

Here is what Washington General Manager Mark Washo had to say:

“The mission of the Washington Freedom is: ‘We are leaders in women’s professional sports.  We win championships and awards.  We strive to serve our community, while furthering the growth and development of women’s soccer.’

“Therefore it is fair to say that changes need to be made in order for us to achieve our stated mission this season.  The entire team, players and coaching staff is currently under evaluation in order for us to draw appropriate conclusions as to what specifically must be changed to right the ship.  The goal is still to make sure we are in the  best possible position to make it into the post season and win a championship.  Cleary time is of the essence at this critical juncture in the season.  However with a win this weekend, we are right back in 3rd place and would clearly improve our overall situation.”

12 Comments… read them below
Jeff said…
Looking into all things down in Maryland. Obviously, there is a lot going on. I will keep you posted.
random said…
Jeff any more color on Cat Whitehill and her loss of the Captain’s armband?
Jeff said…
Both Gabarra and Hayes and full bodies of work to judge in year one. That was a 20 game season. Now, Gabarra is clearly getting much more leeway this season than Hayes did, but he has 10 years of experience built up at that club. Chicago is yet to finish its second season. They are really very different situations. With that said, in no way am I defending a 10-game winless streak.
buenavistaSC said…
Jeff, it was five game games not 17. A team should be give ten games or at least play every opponent first before making coaching decisions
Jane said…
Despite the throngs calling for the ousting of Gabarra, I find it hard to believe Freedom management would throw aside a 10 year veteran and outstanding coach. His track record speaks for itself. Patience most certainly is called for in the case of the Freedom. They have had a difficult season with key players injured. Give Gabarra a break, he can right the ship.
Rach said…
It’s a shame that the CRS let Hayes go as she knows how to be a winner, also things don’t really seem to have changed since she went which to me suggests that what they did was wrong. The freedom have to come up with the goods on Wednesday or the continued losses are just going to bring the players down and suck the fight out of them. Maybe they need to change their shape a little with a formation change and the defense will need to work hard to contain the in form Rodriguez.
Jeff said…
Buenavista – There is a problem with a women’s league not having any female head coaches. Your point with Emma, though: She had way more than five games. The 2010 version of CRS had her hands all over it and it was, at that point, still underperforming. She made some changes that she wanted to make and it still didn’t work, which is when management moved on. And this is coming from someone who really enjoyed talking to her – really delightfully honest. To say she only had five games though is not accurate.
buenavistaSC said…
Good point mwkajdas. There is a double standard here. Women have been canned very early on. Hayes got just five games. How can any coach be judged on five games. Osullivan and Diccicio have been afforded every opportunity to right their ships. Seems like their patient management has paid off. CRS and NJ management should take a good look at themselves. I mean, this is a Womens league. It doesn’t have one single female head coach…..
Jeff said…
All good points. In the EPL or even MLS, a nine game skid would not cut it. Having a demanding fan base shows passion and commitment, so it is good for fans to be demanding. At the same time, management needs to make the decisions. Great points as well that there that patience has done Boston and Atlanta well (and adversity will surely return at some point), and Michael brings up a totally different but related issue. I am not sure there is a sexism card there, though, especially with McDermott in charge in Chicago (as in, it wasn’t a man firing a woman in that case), but it does raise the point that there are no female head coaches in WPS.
mwkajdas said…
There seems to be a double standard here. When Emma Hayes and Paula Miettinen didn’t produce the desired results, they were “relieved of coaching duties” halfway through the season, whereas male coaches are given all the time in the world to right their ships. That being said, I agree with Gary Bailey that patience has proved provident for both Atlanta and Boston and I believe it also would have in Chicago and NJ. Instead, those two teams now seem to be headed for oblivion.
Gary Bailey said…
Look how patience has served Boston and Atlanta. Chicago didn’t afford Hayes that pleasure and I think they will regret that. Stability for a team is equally important.
Chris said…
I dont agree that fans need to be patient. In fact I feel there should be a louder voice of displeasure coming from the fans. Do you think a head coach in the MLS or Premier League would be afforded patience with a 9 game winless streak. The Freedom are not a new team and as Mark Washo has suggested, they are expected to carry on as WINNERS!

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