The Orlando Pride announced this morning the hiring of their newest head coach. Marc Skinner, former Birmingham City Women F.C. boss, will be the Pride’s second-ever head coach heading into the 2019 NWSL season.
Skinner started his coaching career as a technical director for Birmingham City’s youth Centre of Excellence, where he spent seven years, as well as serving as Birmingham’s reserve team manager and first-team goalkeeper coach. The 35-year-old was named the head coach of the club’s women’s team in December 2016. His first campaign in charge was a shortened 2017 spring season, which saw the league transition from a summer schedule to the traditional winter schedule, and Birmingham City finished seventh of the nine teams with seven points (1-3-4). The 2016-2017 FA Women’s Cup saw the club reach the final, where it lost to Manchester City.
Under Skinner’s leadership, the team quickly rose up the table, reaching fifth place in the FA WSL during the 2017-2018 season with 30 points (9-6-3) and the Blues currently sit in fourth in the league with 25 points (8-4-1) this season.
New Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck has repeatedly said that the team had found its head coach and reiterated that during the NWSL College Draft last week. While Ustruck stated he could not name the coach due to his contractual obligations with Birmingham City, it was widely reported that Skinner was that coach.
“We are very pleased to conclude the club’s search for a new head coach and know the team here in Orlando put a lot of work into securing the best candidate to lead our talented group of players,” Ustruck said through a club press release. “Marc will bring a breath of fresh air to the Pride through his modern approach to the game while instilling a foundation of principles to build from. He is both an innovative and progressive manager. We have an incredible opportunity in 2019 and beyond, and we are confident that Marc has the ability to create a winning culture with the Pride.”
Skinner takes over the role from Tom Sermanni, who was the Pride’s first-ever coach. After making the playoffs in 2017, the Pride had a disappointing 2018 season, finishing seventh of nine teams, resulting in Sermanni’s ousting on Sept. 14 and Skinner’s hiring.
“I want to thank the Orlando City SC organization for giving me the opportunity to lead the Pride ahead of the 2019 MLS season,” Skinner said. “I believe that this is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I’m excited to see what the group can bring to the league, and my staff and I will work hard to give them the direction to reach new heights.”
Skinner will name his staff at a later date though Pro Soccer USA has reported that goalkeeper coach Lloyd Yaxley and fitness coach John Grace have remained with the club.