What with the Thorns and NWSL news coming fast and furious these days, it's been a bit of a challenge to take a step back and get a semblance of perspective on certain things. Like, say, the departure of Cindy Parlow Cone, who, citing personal reasons, resigned as the inaugural head coach of Portland Thorns FC on December 5.
Cone's biggest accomplishment during her short tenure, of course, was leading the Thorns to the 2013 NWSL Championship.
When the team won the final in a 2-0 away victory over the Western New York Flash, it was the culmination of a year that, in retrospect, did not have a lot of upside for Parlow Cone in terms of recognition. Stacked with talent and MLS support as the Thorns were from the get-go, anything short of a championship would have been seen as a failure. Under the shadow of such expectations, Parlow Cone's achievement may never receive its proper allotment of appreciation, as much as Thorns fans went ga-ga for it.
Perhaps a little once-over of Parlow Cone's in-season achievements will sweeten the pot.
Parlow Cone lead the Thorns to a 5-game unbeaten streak to start the season, and the Thorns ended tied on points for the league lead at the end of the regular season, behind an 11-6-5, 38-point record (that's one victory more than the Flash, incidentally), coming in third due to tie-breakers. Under her guidance, the Thorns defeated derby rivals Seattle four out of four times, and Portland outscored its opponents by a 38-to-25 margin.
It should not go unnoted all this came with a roster that had to be rejiggered due to Becky Edwards' season-ending knee injury and another knee injury to marquee forward Alex Morgan, just before the postseason began. Of all the moves Parlow Cone made during this time, perhaps the best was to give then-unknown midfielder Mana Shim a chance to fill in at forward -a position she had never played before. At the time, fans and pundits questioned the move; in retrospect, it turns out Parlow Cone had recognized Shim's work ethic and character as a player, and gave her a shot. Shim ended up the Thorns third-leading scorer, after Morgan and Christine Sinclair, and was just called up to the US U23 December camp.
Parlow Cone is a finalist for the 2013 FIFA Coach of the Year award.
All this, mind you, in her first year as a head coach, anywhere.
We wish Cindy Parlow Cone all the best as she moves on.
As with every appreciation thread, please consider our Appreciation Thread Etiquette:
1. Be respectful to the coach. Nobody is perfect.
2. Focus on what they did well while with the club.
3. Save harsh criticisms for other posts concerning them. It's not uncommon for these players to actually read these threads.
4. If you have nothing nice to comment, please do not comment at all.