New Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner – at long last – is set to take over for a team that’s been without a head coach since mid-September.
The Pride officially announced Skinner’s appointment as the team’s second coach in a news release on Monday. Pro Soccer USA previously reported Skinner was the Pride’s new coach but couldn’t be named by the team due to his contract with his previous team, English Women’s Super League side Birmingham City Women FC.
“Marc is very, very motivating,” new Pride GM Erik Ustruck told Pro Soccer USA. “He has a very special skill. You can see it with Birmingham City. He’s taken one of the smallest budgets in the league and they’re sitting in fourth place right now. They just took Arsenal to the 91st minute before they lost 2-1. It’s really impressive if you look at the talent that he has compared to some of the other teams in [Women’s Super League].
“He possesses some really great qualities. What stood out to me with him is he’s very, very hungry. He’s very ambitious. I made a lot of phone calls to other coaches around the world that have dealt with him, that know him. Players that know him. I didn’t hear one negative thing about him. Everything has been extremely positive. They said, ‘He’s the next big thing to come out. So, if you can get him now, this is your time to grab him.’”
Birmingham City, which is affiliated EFL Championship side Birmingham City FC, is in fourth place in the 10-team Women’s Super League with an 8-4-1 (25 points) record. They’re six points behind first-place Manchester City Women FC.
“I want to thank the Orlando City SC organization for giving me the opportunity to lead the Pride ahead of the 2019 NWSL season,” said Skinner in a statement. “I believe that this is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I’m excited to see what the group can bring to this league, and my staff and I will work hard to give them the direction to reach new heights.”
Skinner’s support staff will be announced at a later date. Ustruck told Pro Soccer USA that goalkeeper coach Lloyd Yaxley is still with the team, as is fitness coach John Grace.
Skinner in 2017 coached Birmingham City to a Women’s FA Cup final. His side lost to 4-1 to Manchester City.
Birmingham City finished 2018 in fifth place in the Women’s Super League with a 9-6-3 (30 points) record.
Ustruck added Skinner, 35, is a coach who can take players who would be depth players on other teams and turn them into starting-caliber players. Getting the most out of the talent that’s available will be key to success this season with the Pride set to lose multiple starters due to the Women’s World Cup in France.
Last season, the Pride were frequently without star players like Marta and Alex Morgan due to World Cup qualifying.
“When we lose 10 to 11 players for the World Cup, I think he’s the type of guy that’s able to find those players within the roster and use them as starting-caliber players when we start to lose some of those starting players,” Ustruck said.