Mark Parsons has stepped down as Washington Spirit coach and general manager to pursue a new opportunity, he said on Wednesday.
“In the next couple of weeks, hopefully I can share what my next step is,” Parsons told The Equalizer. “It happened very quickly. The only thing I’ll clarify is I’ve stepped down to pursue something else.”
The Equalizer later learned that Parsons will become the next head coach of Portland Thorns FC. The Thorns recently parted ways with coach Paul Riley and boast one of the highest-profile women’s club soccer coaching jobs on the planet.
Parsons guided the Spirit to two consecutive NWSL semifinal appearances after taking over the team midway through the inaugural 2013 season, when the Spirit finished bottom of the table.
He is just over two weeks removed from coaching the Spirit in the NWSL playoffs. Despite losing to Seattle Reign FC in the semifinals for the second straight season, Parsons felt he had a foundation for the future, especially with 2015 NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn leading the charge.
“With this result, my head is already going,” he told The Equalizer following the loss. “We’ve got to keep as many [players] as we can.”
Parsons was the Spirit Reserves head coach before being elevated to replace Mike Jorden. He coached his first match for the Spirit on July 3, 2013. He finishes in Washington with a regular season mark of 20-24-13 and losses in both playoff matches. The last two seasons Parsons’s regular season record was 18-15-11.