NEW YORK — After joining Sky Blue FC as the interim head coach in September, Freya Coombe has been named the club’s head coach, it was announced Tuesday. The appointment marks Coombe’s first as the head coach of a professional team.
“I’m extremely humbled and grateful to management, ownership, the players, and the Sky Blue family for giving me the opportunity to be the head coach of this energized club,” Coombe said in a statement issued by the club.
Coombe led the team for its final five matches of the season, posting a record of 1-3-1. However, one of Sky Blue’s problem areas managed an improvement in that short spell, with shots per game going from 7.9 in the first 19 matches of the season to 13.25 under Coombe. Shot conversion also went up from 8.2% to 8.7% over that time.
Although she did not have an official role with the club, Coombe was working with the players on a trial basis in the weeks before being named the interim coach. During that period, Sky Blue improved in overall performance and results after opening the season with a nine-match winless streak.
The hiring officially ends Sky Blue’s coaching search, which began after the club fired Denise Reddy in June. Though general manager Alyse LaHue had hoped to quickly replace Reddy, an unexpected amount of interest in the role postponed the decision to the offseason.
“Freya is extremely talented and her passion for soccer is infectious,” owner representative Tammy Murphy said in the same statement. “Freya’s undeniable work ethic made our decision easy. She earned the trust and respect of our players quickly last season.”
Murphy’s feelings were reflected not just by LaHue in the statement, but by forward Paige Monaghan. After Coombe’s first match, a 2-1 loss to the North Carolina Courage, Monaghan told Pro Soccer USA the coach is “just an awesome human. Really knows how to coach the players and tailor to our needs, but also pushing us every game, every practice so credit to her for all of our success.”
Coombe previously played in her native England with Reading FC and coached in the club’s academy before joining New York Soccer Club as its director of scouting. She has her USSF B and UEFA B licenses, and is expecting to receive her USSF A license this year.
Further announcements about club staff, which is expected to increase during the offseason, and the regular updates on player comings and goings are expected shortly, per the club statement.