Tuesday, the Washington Freedom announced its intentions to stick with Head Coach Jim Gabarra through an extensive statement from General Manager Mark Washo. That announcement also included the news that assistant Clyde Watson had resigned and Emma Hayes has been brought on as an assistant.
The decision to stick with Gabarra at this juncture in the season just makes sense, for several reasons. First is a point I will continue to come back to: The man’s tenure. He has been with the club for 10 years and led it to a WUSA Championship in 2003 and W-League title in 2007 and everyone within the organization knows what he is about.
More importantly, the timing makes no sense. It is now August 10 and the regular season ends exactly one month from tomorrow. Hiring a new head coach or even instilling an interim coach leaves no time for that person to make a mark on the team. If the Freedom had pulled the trigger, a new coach – one that may not be that well-known – would have less than one month to put his or her mark on the team.
There would be no way to judge the effectiveness of that coach and whether or not he or she made any difference.
Washington is still in the playoff race and is just one win away from fourth place. For a team that didn’t win a game for over two months, that is a decent place to be sitting.
The addition of Hayes brings a new outside voice to help evaluate the situation. Plus, it brings back a personality that I have to say WPS missed. There is no dancing around facts with Hayes. She tells it how it is and perhaps that is something Washington as a whole is in need of hearing.
Hayes will also be in what sounds like a fairly influential role, which could be a step back into WPS for her. As great as the league is, the dismissal of her by Chicago followed by Pauliina Miettinen by Sky Blue FC leaves the league without any female head coaches.
So, give Gabarra a chance. If nothing changes by the end of the season, then it would tough to argue his dismissal. Just don’t forget what Sky Blue FC did last season after going through one ugly regular season. It is completely possible for Washington – and Atlanta, Sky Blue FC and Chicago, for that matter – to make a similar run in 2010.