Mark Parsons: Who is the Portland Thorns manager leaving for the Netherlands?

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Mark Parsons has been announced as the new manager of the Dutch national football team. GiveMeSport Women looks at his career so far.

Parsons has signed a two-year contract with the Netherlands, a period which includes the 2022 European Championships in England. The Dutch side will go into that tournament as defending champions, having triumphed in front of a home crowd in 2017.

The 34-year-old Parsons will fill the space left by Sarina Wiegman, who is taking up the head coach position with the Lionesses. He will begin with the national team after finishing the ongoing NWSL season with Portland Thorns.

“I think for most people, they probably weren’t expecting me to leave the opportunity that I’m currently doing,” Parsons said. “But when one of the leading nations who’ve developed some of the best players in the women’s and men’s game, some of the very best coaches in the women’s and men’s game, calls you, it’s a unique opportunity.”

What has Parsons done in his career so far? GiveMeSport Women finds out.

Experience with Chelsea

Parsons is British-born. He had multiple coaching roles in England before going over to the United States. This included stints as coach of the Chelsea women’s reserve team and head of the club’s girls academy.

It was a dream come true for Parsons to earn his coaching credentials at his boyhood club, having grown up in Cranleigh in Surrey. But he later revealed in an interview with The Athletic that he had always been attracted to working in the United States. He had visited the country multiple times with Chelsea.

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Rapid rise with Washington Spirit

After deciding with his wife to move to the US, Parsons found a job as a technical director for a youth football organisation in a small town in Virginia. From there, he accepted a complementary role as coach of the DC United Under-20 women’s team.

When the NWSL was launched in 2013, the DC United management created Washington Spirit. Parsons took on a position as a reserve coach at the club, but was surprisingly asked to take over the reins of the first team in 2013 after the incumbent coach was fired.

Despite the unexpectedness of his appointment, Parsons turned the fortunes of Washington Spirit around. They were bottom of the NWSL table when he took over, but the side made the play-offs in both 2014 and 2015.

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Move to Portland Thorns

Parsons’s impressive performances at Washington Spirit did not go unnoticed. In 2015, he was appointed manager of Portland Thorns. The club had won the inaugural NWSL in 2013.

Parsons led the team to even more success, winning the NWSL Shield in 2016 and the NWSL Championship in 2017. Portland Thorns are considered favourites this season, having won the Challenge Cup earlier this month.

“It feels incredible to be a part of a team that’s achieved some special results but also knowing that this team has so much ambition and the future looks incredible,” Parsons said. “To join this project, to be a part of something that is really pushing boundaries in the women’s game is something I’ve dreamt of,”

Parsons is now onto his next challenge with the reigning European champions and World Cup runners-up. Do you think he is a good appointment?

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