Mark Parsons voted NWSL Coach of the Year

Daniel Bartel-ISI Photos

Portland coach forged the league's best defense while leading the Thorns to the NWSL Shield.

Portland Thorns head coach Mark Parsons has been voted the National Women’s Soccer League Coach of the Year, the league announced on Monday.

The former Washington Spirit coach finished above fellow nominees Jim Gabarra (Washington) and Paul Riley (Western New York Flash) in a voting process that included the league’s players, coaches, media and fans. It is his first Coach of the Year honor.

Parsons, 30, was hired before the season by Portland after a franchise-worst sixth-place finish during 2015. In his first year at Providence Park, Parsons led the Thorns to the NWSL Shield, awarded annually to the league’s regular season champion.

Portland also had the NWSL’s best defense, becoming the third team in league history to allow fewer than 1.00 goals per game. Allowing 19 goals in 20 games, the Thorns joined the 2013 Flash and 2014 Seattle Reign as the only teams in league history to allow less than one goal per game.

Parsons also improved the Thorns attack, leading the team to 35 goals one year after the team scored 27 times during the 20-game 2015 season.

Portland was eliminated from the 2016 NWSL Playoffs on Sunday after a 4-3 loss at home to the Flash after extra time.

Parsons becomes the third different winner of the league’s Coach of the Year honor. FC Kansas City’s Vlatko Andonovski won the inaugural honor in 2013, with Seattle’s Laura Harvey claiming the award in 2014 and 2015.