With the 2019 NWSL season fast approaching, the Washington Spirit formally announced the hiring of Richie Burke as their new head coach, along with a techincal staff combining some new hires with some holdovers. The move was first reported by the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, whose piece also notes that as of twelve days ago, Burke had already spoken to players via conference call. Burke’s official title is Head Coach and Technical Director, an indicator that team president Chris Hummer will remain the General Manager.
Burke has been a fixture in the region’s coaching community for many years, and holds both a UEFA “A” license and a “B” license from US Soccer. Burke’s coaching staff will include two new hires. Michael Minthorne has been brought in as the Spirit’s High Performance Coach, covering things like strength, conditioning, and nutrition, while Christian Cziommer has been named the team’s Tactical Analyst and Team Performance Coach.
The newcomers will be joined by Tom Torres, who was an assistant coach on Jim Gabarra’s staff last season before taking over as interim head coach for the final three games after Gabarra was dismissed in August. Torres has a new job title (Player/Opponent Analyst & Technical Development Coach), and will remain the director of the club’s Virginia Development Academy branch.
KJ Spisak, who has overseen the Spirit Reserves through three straight unbeaten regular seasons, remains with the club as Scouting & Reserve Team Head Coach. Ben Berczek also remains on staff as the Spirit’s Equipment Manager & Training Coordinator.
The new staff will be tasked with rejuvenating a club that has won just 7 of their last 48 regular season games, finishing at the bottom of the table in 2017 and breaking league records for futility in front of goal in 2018. They’ll also have to grapple with a tricky schedule, as four key Spirit attackers (Estefania Banini, Rose Lavelle, Francisca Ordega, and Mallory Pugh) appear certain to miss a large portion of the season due to the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
The team press release announcing the moves also notes that the club will hire a goalkeepers coach and “addition support staff dedicated solely to the professional team” within a month, and that there will be open tryouts for the first team (with the date yet to be settled).