After a coaching stint with the Dutch Women’s National Team, Mark Parsons returned to the NWSL this season to lead the Washington Spirit, seven years after heading the team during its first three seasons. In an interview with Northern Virginia Magazine, he talks the future of the team and why he returned.
What made you want to come back to the Spirit and NWSL?
I love the NWSL. This is where I have grown and learned and had unbelievable experiences. But the most important thing is the competitiveness. Every single minute it’s do or die in these games. Every team is going to have the ability to beat you, to punish you in any given moment.
It starts with Michele Kang and Mark Krikorian. Those two have given me the opportunity to be a part of something. When you call me and say, “Hey, we’re starting something really special, but we need help,” you got me. That’s been my weak spot. When you give me a chance, I’m going to be there. But also when you’re asking for help in something special. I love those projects. One, the league. Two, Michele and Mark. Three, the roster. It’s an unbelievably exciting roster that has tasted success.
The team won a championship in 2021. What will it take to get back to that level?
Time. We don’t have time, but it takes time. It takes training. It takes keeping all talent healthy and making sure they’re available to play. … We’ve got great talent and with talent, things are possible. Without talent, things get harder.
The Spirit will play its first full season at Audi Field. What does that mean for the team?
For us, it’s absolutely huge. The players have been desperate for this world-class facility since they tasted it. … To have this facility but also atmosphere, connection, and this community-based fan base, I think it’s huge. Huge for the Spirit. Huge for the NWSL. DC is a city and a region with a rich soccer history. And I’m glad that we can now build on the history.
Any countries fans should keep an eye out for in the Women’s World Cup?
Canada, the U.S., Panama, and Ireland are my soft spots because we have Spirts hopefully going to compete for these countries. The U.S., since their second Germany game, are finding their feet and groove again. When they win, the NWSL wins. The team to beat, which warms my heart because it’s my home country, is England. They’re in an unbelievable place. I think they’ve been building now for four or five years. They’ve got fantastic players. A fantastic coach. They just won the Euros. They were the best team in Euros consistently. I hope all our Spirits do well, but I also think the US, you’re going to have to keep an eye on them, Canada with the Olympic gold medal, and England is probably the team to beat.
This story originally ran in our June issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.