The Washington Spirit have named Jim Gabarra as the club’s new general manager and head coach for the 2016 NWSL season. Formerly the head coach for Sky Blue FC, Gabarra earned a record of 24-22-21 over the three seasons in the NWSL.
“Jim has put more time and energy into the coaching and managing side of women’s professional soccer than anyone in the game,” said Washington Spirit owner Bill Lynch. “I am thrilled that we were able to collaborate with Sky Blue FC to give Jim the opportunity to get back home and bring him to the Spirit.”
The Spirit needed to find a new coach after Mark Parsons, who had been the head coach and general manager of the team for two years left to take the head coaching job at the NWSL’s Portland Thorns at the end of the 2015 season.
Gabarra started with Sky Blue FC coaching the team in the WPS in 2011 before leading them into the inaugural season of the NWSL. He earned a 24-22-20 record in three seasons from 2013-2015, including qualifying for the playoffs in 2013.
“Jim brings a lot of knowledge of the NWSL, all of the current players, the potential new players, and also a very deep network in the DC area,” added Lynch. “He is perfectly suited for the Head Coach and General Manager role for the Spirit.”
Gabarra, who spent 10 years in the DC area coaching the Washington Freedom, led the Freedom to back-to-back appearances in the WUSA Championship in 2002 and 2003, winning in 2003. After WUSA folded, he coached the Freedom to a USL W-League Championship in 2007. Gabarra also led the Washington Freedom to two consecutive appearances in WPS playoffs in 2009 and 2010.
“I could not be more excited to join the Washington Spirit Family. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to working with Bill, all the staff, volunteers and programs,” said Gabarra. “Thank you to Sky Blue FC ownership and everyone I had the privilege of working with in NJ over the past five years.”
In five professional seasons in the Washington D.C. area, Gabarra was in the playoffs four times and won one Championship. He is the only person who has coached in every season that there has been a professional women’s league in the United States.
“My focus and passion is to contribute to this club’s rising success, as well as the development and growth of this special group of players,” stated Gabarra. “To be back at the SoccerPlex and interact with the Spirt fans is going to be fantastic.”
As a player, Gabarra earned 14 caps with the US Men’s National Team, including an appearance in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
Photo courtesy Washington Spirit.