Listening to Portland Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson tell it, he really didn’t want to let Mark Parsons go. But as it happened, Parsons approached his boss in recent weeks and floated the idea of a job opportunity overseas, and would Wilkinson be willing to listen.
“This was Mark coming to me and saying, ‘Gavin, should the opportunity arise in the next six months where I can go back to Europe and be closer to my family, could you at least listen?” Wilkinson said on a national Zoom call last week. “And the response was, ‘I’d prefer not to. Let’s look at solutions how we can create an environment for your family in the U.S. that allows you to stay with the Thorns.’”
In the COVID-19 world, even the most resourceful are at its mercy, and no suitable solution could be found. Parsons and his wife moved to the United States from England 10 years ago, and have relied heavily on transatlantic visitation. In the absence of that possibility, his wife and now daughter have spent most of the last year, “living a different life,” he said. Moving back to Europe became the best solution for the Parsons family.
And so he is heading to the Netherlands to take charge of the European champions and World Cup runners-up. By the time Parsons officially takes the helm sometime this fall Oranje could be Olympic champions too, or they could be adrift and in search of direction. And the Thorns will either be looking for the club’s fourth head coach or getting ready for the new boss to take over.
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