Cindy Parlow Cone steps down as Thorns coach

Jeff Kassouf December 5, 2013 83

Cindy Parlow Cone will no longer be Portland Thorns FC coach due to personal reasons, according to a report. (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

Cindy Parlow Cone will no longer coach Portland Thorns FC due to personal reasons, as first reported by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

Cone confirmed the news via Twitter and The Equalizer has also independently confirmed that an announcement on a new coach is expected Monday. Expect that announcement to be Paul Riley as the new coach. Wahl listed Riley as the top candidate, and it’s clear from my sources that Riley will be the new coach.

Riley was previously a finalist for the U.S. coaching job last year that was given to Tom Sermanni, and he was in the running for the currently open English job.

Portland struggled through stretches of the regular season in 2013 but ultimately won on the road twice in the playoffs – winning in the overtime of the semifinal at FC Kansas City and in Rochester, N.Y., to beat the Western New York Flash in the final – to claim the NWSL Championship in the league’s inaugural season.

Cone’s husband, Dr. John Cone, was the director of sports science for the Portland Timbers, the Thorns’ brother club, but the Oregonian reports that John has also left the club.

“We had to make a decision about the type of lifestyle we want to have together,” Cone told the Oregonian Thursday. “We decided we needed to find jobs where we could spend more time together.”

Cone took to Twitter to thank the Thorns organization, stating it was the best move for her family:

Thorns and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson thanked Cone for her time in Portland:

  • kernel_thai

    If the Paul Riley rumors r true Portland now has a tactician to help mesh their very impressive parts into a very dangerous soccer team

    • Steglitz49

      Portland won the first ever NWSL title. CPC can hardly improve on that. The lady seems to have taken a leaf out of Bill Shankly’s book. She has done what Norio Sasaki wanted to do but allowed himself to be dissuaded from.

      I am trying to think of some female analogies but can at short notice only come up with those from winter-sports, like Rosi Mittermaier, Magdalena Neuner and Annemarie Moser-Proell.

      Well done CPC! May the force be with you.

      • Ben

        If all coaches had that mentality, then people like Sir Alex Ferguson won’t be the legend that he is.

        • Steglitz49

          Bill Shankly is seen as one of the all-time greatest coaches (managers) in soccer history. What he built at Liverpool from scratch is probably unrivaled. Bob Paisley, his assistant who succeeded him, was even more successful in terms of trophies but Shankly laid the foundations.

    • Elaine

      Was DiCicco not available?

      • Steglitz49

        Why would he move?

        • Elaine

          Perhaps he’s waiting to coach the expansion team in Connecticut?

          • Steglitz49

            He has won the World Cup, has he not? Why not stay at a college, where he is loved and respected — or am I behind the times as usual?

          • Elaine

            Not only did he win the 99 World Cup for the US, but he also won the 08 U20 WC with Alex and Syd. Last I heard he is running a soccer program in Connecticut but he keeps tabs on the NWSL. He last coached the Breakers in the WPS but left in 2011.

          • Steglitz49

            He was born and grew up in CT and spent some time in MA and has lived virtually all his life in New England (east coast). We lived for a while in CT and have family in Boston. I find it hard to believe that DiCicco would chose to move to Portland, not least a Portland that just hoisted the trophy.

            Were NWSL to ask him to head up a new franchise in CA, maybe, else I think you are more on the money. Maybe even coach Sindelfingen or whatever that team last in the Bundesliga is called who managed to draw with Bayern Munich.

          • Elaine

            DiCicco was willing to move all the way to England for their NT head coach job. So was Riley. Maybe he’s in talks with Houston, who knows?

          • Steglitz49

            Houston I can believe. I gave CA as an example because it was on the same coast as Portland and a New Englander ought to feel more comfortable in the Golden State than the Lone Star State. Best wishes for him down south, if he goes!

            After the debacle in Sweden this summer, the FA and big clubs are putting their shoulders to the wheel for the English lasses. This is a great time to take on the English NT. A time to rebuild with support. Can’t get any worse or more embarrassing. (Scotland are also doing well and could easily qualify at the expense of Sweden.)

          • Elaine

            I often wonder about the mentality of coaches. The drive to compete and win must be as strong as any player, even if you’re waiting for some owner to call you.

          • Steglitz49

            Another interesting facets is that some coaches like Nisse Liedholm, Bill Shankly and Bobby Robson developed a whole host of staff who went on to become coaches in their own way, while others equally or even more famous have left no disciples. Go figure.

          • GJANGO

            No you’re not. He couldn’t win the WPS title with the Breakers.

          • kernel_thai

            I think his interest level can be gauged by not re-upping with the Breakers.

    • Silver Frost

      This news is shocking. Cone was a championship coach but quite for family reasons. It begs the question: can women with families devote themselves fully to professional coaching? Men don’t seem to have that problem.

      • Elaine

        It may be shocking, but it’s also quite exciting if you are a Thorns fan.

        • TsovLoj

          This. We won in spite of her. The upper management probably recognized this as well. “Personal reasons” sounds like saving face to me.

          • Steglitz49

            Your allegation cannot be proved. The fact is that Portland hoisted the trophy. That is what the record books show.

          • Ben

            New season new challenges. Doesn’t matter what the record books show as the Thorns still have to compete. Anyone with a semblance of soccer knowledge knew that the Thorns under-performed last season. The management will be smart to make changes now instead of waiting mid season when their luck finally runs out.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily and forsooth.

        • Lorehead

          I was not expecting that, but remember when I joked, if she won the title, could we still fire her?

          In any case, I wish her and her husband the best.

      • Paul Atkinson

        Your sexism is showing. You might want to cover that up.

        • TsovLoj

          Word. It’s kind of a terrible argument.

          • Silver Frost

            I’m happy to report my question has been answered by CPC herself: “…due to the scheduling conflicts created by the job, I realized that despite being a great move for my career, it was less than ideal for the health of my marriage – which is the most important thing in my life.” Male coaches in pro sports don’t do that. Why? Please show facts to disprove my assertion.

          • D23

            I can point to at least two male national team coaches in cricket who have quit for family reasons: Gary Kirsten (coach of South Africa) and Stuart Law (coach of Bangladesh)

          • nwslfan

            fine, I’ll bite. successful male coaches quit too. I point to the many many male pro coaches who quit, despite having success professionally, due to “burn out” the manly term used to describe personal life/family life being unbalanced or troubled. those guys are wise enough to realize careers ain’t everything. some men have self identities so wrapped up with their coaching, that they keep right on coaching even when their personal houses are on fire. the 2 approaches to work/life can be summed up with Dick Vemeil vs Andy Reid.

            it appears, sadly, that the marriage is strained. the announcement comes after CPC had 3 months of off-season, with more time to work on the relationship. some couples have demanding jobs. time apart can strain the relationship. it also may be that Thorns management wanted to change coaches, which I personally think is a sound soccer decision. Terminating the coach would not explain the husband leaving his job too, as noted by other commentators.

          • Lorehead

            If we’re willing to speculate based on no evidence, there are a lot of things that might have gone on behind the scenes, although fewer that would not lead to someone blabbing.

          • nwslfan

            she stated her reasons. ok then. so you want it be they resigned their jobs to spend time together and make a contented marriage even stronger?

          • Lorehead

            I’m sure we’re getting the acceptable reasons and not the full picture, but no, I’m not going to speculate any further.

        • Silver Frost

          Taking the bait in a stereotypical way to misread what I asked and pounce on an imagined insult? Instead of answering with facts, you toss out the ad hominem attack. I didn’t say women coaches can’t deal with family and business at the same time. I just wonder why so few women are coaching in NWSL, and if family pressure is more on women than men. Cone’s decision is a mystery. And thanks for stepping up as a real man and protecting the women.

          • Chip

            CPC’s husband also resigned from his position with the Timbers for the same reasons. Gender wasn’t a factor in this case.

          • G2

            You missed that, her HUSBAND also quit his job for family reasons, aka to spend more time together.

          • KT5000

            Your words: “can women with families devote themselves fully to professional coaching? Men don’t seem to have that problem.”

            That is very easily read as a suggestion that women coaches can’t deal with family and business at the same time. CPC resigns from her position, and THIS is your comment on it? Own up to your words; they might not have fully representd your thoughts, but they aren’t being twisted.

      • D R Allen

        You should note the article states that her husband ALSO quit his job to be w/the family more.

      • KT5000

        Are you being serious? I am asking you honestly.

    • JAMES

      Good for Portland.

    • xanthophobe

      My thoughts exactly. CPC’s lack of experience showed towards the end of the season–she should be very thankful that FCKC can’t hold a lead and that Tobin Heath stepped up to take that free kick. If they could win a title with a first year head coach, imagine what they’ll do with a man who won WPS coach of the year twice.

      • necron99

        He won coach of the year and exactly how many titles??? 0

        • xanthophobe

          Distinct differences are at hand. With Philly, Riley most certainly didn’t have the roster he’ll have in Portland. The fact that he made Philly a contender is impressive in my opinion.

          • Lorehead

            Riley faced a WNY team that had not just the strikers that everyone was complaining Merritt Paulson must have used his influence behind the scenes to get, and plenty of other NT players, but also paid half a million dollars to add Marta, and took it to penalty kicks.

        • Steglitz49

          How can you win coach-of-the-year and not win a title? The only reason I can think of is that you take over an underperforming team riven with internecine feud and poor self-image, maybe short of cash also, and at least take them to the final of the play-offs but lose in a pso. Something like that.

          • Lorehead

            If the salary cap counts as being short on cash, that did describe the Thorns up until they won by two.

          • Dayborn

            Often voting on “of the year” awards is done before the post season.

          • Steglitz49

            A meaningless award iow.

      • Lorehead

        I think you have to give the credit for that amazing comeback in KC to the players, but she did a good job in the final adapting to that red card at the end of the first half and playing a woman down, and that second goal from Sinc with an assist from Alex would still have won it.

  • Elaine

    Well I’ll be darned. Guess she’s smarter than we thought. Good luck to you Coach Cone.

  • kernel_thai

    The title should have been Cone Changes Hats

    • NYRick

      Brilliant. There may be a future for you with the NY Post as the headline writer for the backpage.

    • romel dias

      You certainly have your thinking cap on ;)

  • dt

    Are we sure that she is quitting because of family or just an excuse so Portland can bring in a new coach?

    • Steglitz49

      The expression “wanting to spend more time with one’s family” has a coded meaning at least in English political English. The English also gave us expressions like “being economical with the truth” and “being economical with the actuality” either of which might apply in this case.

      • Lorehead

        True, but this was someone who had performed more than well enough to keep her job. And if the purpose is to give a face-saving excuse, why announce to the world that your marriage is in trouble? Although I guess they don’t have children they could use.

        • Steglitz49

          The female of the species being more successful than the male may not work wonders for one’s marriage.

          • Lorehead

            So they compromised by both giving up of their jobs?

          • Steglitz49

            As I wrote elsewhere, what is there left for her to do at Portland? Win the NWSL a second time? Big deal.

            Instead CPC is wise. She is quitting while she is ahead. This may have been influenced by the domestic situation or by her hubby having been given the heave-ho. We shall proably never learn.

          • Lorehead

            If she loved the job, she wouldn’t have quit. Among other reasons, a childless marriage to a man who’d demand you give up your dream job because you’re not spending enough time with him would probably not be worth saving—in general. I am not accusing Cone of that.

          • Steglitz49

            I would have resigned. Winning the inaugural NWSL. Why carry on?

            Maybe she was annoyed at Portland not going to the MobCast cup. Portland ought to have won that in a walk.

    • David K Anderson

      My first inclination was to be suspicious…but John Cone (her husband) also resigning his position with the Timbers lends considerable credence. I really think they are doing this for family reasons, and that’s commendable.

  • STT

    Well damn… Now I’m torn. I love Riley but dislike the Thorns… =-S

    • westy

      Love the Thorns and Riley. Can’t wait to see what he will do with this great bunch of girls.

      • Steglitz49

        I thought Alex was moving to Houston and Tobin staying in Paris.

        • Davis

          Nobody is moving to Houston and Heath will be back mid-season, just like she was last season.

          • Steglitz49

            Whew! That’s all right then. The second trophy is in the post. Roll on the next MobCast cup. Yeehaw!

          • David K Anderson

            We may get Tobin a little earlier, in fact, since PSG got bounced out of the CL.

          • Steglitz49

            It would depend on how PSG fare in France’s domestic cup, the final of which is usually played after the Champions League final (often in early June).

          • David K Anderson

            Ah, thanks, Steglitz49! I was under the mistaken impression that the CL final was later. Hmmm…tough call for me: do I root for PSG to make an early exit so we get Tobin sooner? I consider her to be _the_ impact player on our roster. But I’d also like to see her hoist another trophy…

          • vive la heath

            The French league and cup matter too you know.
            - If PSG is still in the cup, she’s gonna stay for that.
            - If PSG is still battling for 1st or 2nd place, she’s gonna stick around too.
            Oh and in Europe, big teams will hold you to a contract when they want to. Which is why Pinoe isn’t at camp right now.
            There’s more than just CL. CL is a big deal, but it’s not ALL there is.

  • purple739

    She got sick of that damn hat. That is all.

    • Steglitz49

      Nadine Angerer was recently voted the hat-lady of Germany. A not totally unsuccessful goalie.

  • dt

    Looks like it is family reasons, as her husband is leaving the TImbers.

  • FDChief218

    “Family” is over used as a smokescreen for a firing but in this case it seems to be the case. Her husband, John Cone, is also stepping down from his job with the Timbers organization so the couple can work things out. CPC stated that “…due to the scheduling conflicts created by the job, I realized
    that despite being a great move for my career, it was less than ideal
    for the health of my marriage – which is the most important thing in my
    life.”

    I’ll admit to having issues with her skills last season; it seemed that every time our gals ran into a team with better organization and a more skilled tactician – Gabarra at Sky Blue and Antonovski at FCKC were two that come to mind – Thorns seemed to have trouble adjusting. I won’t go so far as some in saying “we won in spite of her” but I was looking forward to seeing if she would grow in the coming season.

    But I’ve also been where she and her husband are, and that’s a hell of a bad place. I wish them all the best going forward and hope they can work things out.

    • LCLondoner

      Well said. CPC definitely brought a positivity, an enthusiasm, and – not least – a winner’s mentality to the Thorns- but her tactical decisions could be puzzling. The idea that the organization coaxed her to leave, however, is mishegoss; she earned the right to stay a couple more seasons at a minimum on the strength of that championship. Now, we’ll see how a team that, I agree, under-performed, will grow with this change.

  • wosofan

    I’m not a Thorns fan, but happy at this announcement. This could really help Alex Morgan’s development. Also, this will be interesting when Riley faces is his former team (mostly) — the FCKC Blues.

    • kernel_thai

      It will be interesting, if it happens, to see how he uses his players and if it’s to better effect.

    • newsouth

      i thought philly looked good with a-rod vs a-rod and kai. i’m not sure the duel thing is riley’s strong point. they may look no different than they looked with cone. if it’s a match up thing with sinclair and morgan, they may still struggle even with riley. their defense will be better for sure

  • newsouth

    complete failure by cbf again not to pick this guy up while he was sitting around doing nothing but he costs money vs hiring a coach for peanuts and a dorm room! brazil’s two weaknesses are conditioning and defense. riley likes two a days and has strong defensive squads.

  • kristie mewis :)

    ive been waiting for this day forever! finally! now we’ll have a great coach with amazing players. and hopefully all the UNC benchwarmers will be waived…

    • TsovLoj

      Cheers to that, eh!

    • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

      Nobody knows the suffering of Thorns fans.

      • Lorehead

        We suffer ironically.

  • morSOC

    The phrase “spend more time with family” is of course tainted through it’s use to cover unsavory reasons for departing. I’m reminded that both Dorrance and DiCicco used the phrase when leaving the USWNT, both under the cloud of having had relations with a player. here we seem to have a couple who truly value their relationship and want to work in an environment that fosters it.