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Washington Spirit hire Morinao Imaizumi as Player Development Coach

Spirit continue to strengthen their technical staff, but still searching for a head coach

Orlando Pride v Washington Spirit - 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The much-needed offseason changes continue for the Washington Spirit, who most recently announced the hiring of Morinao Imaizumi as Player Development Coach — their second new hire in about a week.

Imaizumi has close ties with Spirit President of Soccer Operations Mark Krikorian, having served on the coaching staff at Florida State University under Krikorian for roughly 10 years, from 2011 to 2012 and again from 2015 through 2021. That relationship was likely instrumental in Imaizumi’s move to Washington.

Imaizumi most recently worked for the Chicago Red Stars, where he was hired as an assistant coach in January. He has also coached several teams in Japan, including serving as assistant coach of the National Team and head coach of their U-17 National Team.

“I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of great coaches and Ima is among the best in the world when it comes to player development,” Krikorian said in the official announcement of Imaizumi’s hiring. “He will have a significant impact both technically and tactically on our players.”

A coach with experience developing young players could be a huge benefit to the Spirit — a relatively young team that struggled when forced to lean on less experienced players last season. Imaizumi’s selection demonstrates the focus of Krikorian and Spirit owner Y. Michele Kang to expand the technical staff and emphasize player development and support. The intensity with which they’re building an infrastructure that had been lacking or nonexistent is exciting for fans, and — after everything — must be a relief for the players.