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Jim Gabarra resigns as the Washington Freedom's head coach after 10 years with women's club

Jim Gabarra has resigned as head coach of the Washington Freedom after 10 years spanning three leagues, the WPS club announced Tuesday.

The departure was not unexpected; Gabarra nearly lost his job in August amid internal turmoil and a 10-game winless streak. Washington (8-10-7) rebounded to earn the final playoff berth before losing to Philadelphia in the first round.

"I didn't think I was surprised at all, given recent events," club president Mark Washo told the Insider when asked about Gabarra's resignation. "The season concluded earlier than we hoped. Clearly, there was a lot of turmoil. It was a rough finish. Both sides considered things and this was the conclusion that he reached."

Said Gabarra: "At this time, I cannot continue with the current management and the irreconcilable differences that are present. There are differences, a lot of them fundamental."

During the troubling stretch, Gabarra was required to outline a formal plan on how to turn around the season. Washo was satisfied with the presentation and decided to retain Gabarra.

The search for a replacement is underway, Washo said. England's Emma Hayes, who was hired as a consultant late in the season, would appear to be a top candidate. However, Washo said Hayes returned to Europe and he wasn't sure of her coaching intentions overseas or in WPS. "I would definitely talk to her. She helped us turn the corner."

Gabarra became the Freedom's coach in 2000. He led the team to the 2003 WUSA Founders Cup championship and, after that league folded, oversaw the team's participation in the second-tier W-League through 2008. In a statement issued by the club, he said: "I wish to thank all my staff and all the players that I have had the pleasure of working with and coaching. Thank you [owners] John and Maureen Hendricks for allowing me to passionately pour my heart into building the Freedom over the past 10 years. I am grateful that you have allowed me to contribute to the women's game here in the D.C. area."

Meantime, Washo said that, per her request, standout left wing Sonia Bompastor will not return to the Freedom in order to play in her native France again. She could be loaned to Washington after next summer's World Cup. ... Club officials and free agent striker Abby Wambach, the team's leading scorer, have yet to discuss a new contract. Speculation has arisen that Wambach, currently in U.S. national team camp, might join the expansion Buffalo-Rochester franchise; she is from western New York. "She has expressed interest in staying," Washo said, "but wants to keep her options open."

By Matt Bonesteel  | September 28, 2010; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Freedom, Women  | Tags:  Washington Freedom  
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Gabarra is right the Hendricks have have invested so much into "the Freedom and women's soccer over the past ten years."
I wish we could get them interested in the DC United!!

Posted by: lovinliberty | September 28, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Womens soccer has been going on in the DC area?

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | September 28, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

1 step forward. Too bad the team took one step back, with Sonia Bompastor deciding to return to France. We will miss you dearly Sonia!

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | September 28, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

So, Gabarra is severing all ties? Who will coach the W-League franchise?

Posted by: bs2004 | September 28, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

How long before Kevin Payne gives this guy a call?

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 28, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Gabarra had already disconnected himself from the W-League franchise (possibly last year after the WPSers played an away game on a Wednesday, and the W-Leaguers played at home the next day). Win Puffer had been coaching that team. But he's gone, too.

Regardless, those of us who have been Freedom fans since the beginning are going to find it hard to imagine the team without Gabarra.

Posted by: kevinwparker | September 28, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Gabarra's seeing the writing on the wall. Does he know something we don't about what Abby Wambach plans to do next season?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | September 28, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the writing on the wall about wehether the league even makes it to a third season; which looks increasingly doubtful despite brave talk about a new franchise.

Posted by: Ron16 | September 28, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

If Wambach and Bompastor are both gone then the Freedom are going to be a tough sell. Good luck to their marketing department.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | September 28, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It's idiotic to think this guy can successfully coach men's pro soccer just becasue he was a success with the women. Tony DiCicco never crossed over, and if he didn't, no one will.

You can tell Washo is a KP protege. He says the same things, and he is just as gutless. He puts the coach on the hot seat, as KP has done, forces a "resignation," and deflects all of the accountability away from the executive level. Washo is a perfect match for MLS.

Posted by: lgm6986 | September 28, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Gabarra already has several years coaching men's teams. In fact, the decision of the Freedom to hire him was criticized because at that point he had zero experience coaching women.

Posted by: kevinwparker | September 28, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

So lgm, are you going to attack management of every team?

Gabarra was in the midst of a 10 game losing streak. They went two calendar months without a win. If ever there was a time to point the finger at the coaching staff, that was it. Especially considering the talent on the Freedom roster.

I know there seems to be some turmoil in the Freedom organization, but don't throw Washo under the bus on this issue. It was time for Jim to shuffle off (to Buffalo???).

I forsee a season 3 for WPS. But my crystal ball has been on the fritz this year. It also so the Freedom winning the Title :-)

Posted by: SoccerVA | September 28, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

It would be strange for WPS to announce a northern NY team without knowing if they could last another year. That doesn't mena another team couldn't contract.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 28, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Not at all surprised by this. Gabarra underachieved tremendously with the roster he had both this season and last. Big void with Bompastor leaving however. If Abby goes as well, I agree that the Freedom will be an even tougher sell unless they get another marquee player.

Posted by: griffin1108 | September 28, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Sonia Bompastor is a huge loss. It sounds as if she may come back after the world cup next summer?

Posted by: mmsq | September 28, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I will not miss Gabarra. At all. If Paul Riley had this team, he would have won the new league at least once. Pity is that the Freedom lost Clyde Watson as well. That's a story that's yet to be told, although apparently not enough people give a sheiss about it for any reporters to dig into it.

Truth be told, I will not miss Wambach. Lot of respect, admiration, and hope she does well in red, white and blue in WWC. Just not my cup of tea in terms of watching a soccer game.

Sonia on the other hand. I do not think bereft is too strong a word. I count myself lucky for the number of times I got to watch her play. Players like her are the reason I pay money to watch soccer played by professionals. Vive la France! Vive Sonia!

Posted by: OWNTF | September 28, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Washo came from MLS via DCU, learned at KP's knee. He started destroying Freedom last year and will continue until it's gone, if the Hendricks' allow. Wambach has mailed it in most of this year, so I for one will not miss her. Rumor is that Freedom will not participate in W-League next year (unfortunate).

Posted by: footballfan9 | September 28, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

It's about time Gabarra left, he should have been fired a long time ago. I was always of the opinion that the Freedom won despite Gabarra. When you've had the best player in the world on your team (Hamm) and arguably the best player in the world (Wambach) on your team they should have done better.

Posted by: owendylan | September 28, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

So very sad about Sonia -- saw her in practice before season one and my daughters and I were simply blown away, asking everyone -- "who IS this woman!?!". It's been just a joy to watch her play for the Freedom and she couldn't have been more kind nor more generous with the fans. Wish her only the very best and hope there's some way after the WWC that we see her play for the Freedom again.

Posted by: clg0519 | September 28, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

We will really miss Sonia. It does make sense not to have to do all the traveling between the States and Europe before the World Cup tho. Camile Abily has also stayed in France. I tink Abby should go to New York. I will miss Gabara. DC could use him tho.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | September 28, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

We will really miss Sonia. It does make sense not to have to do all the traveling between the States and Europe before the World Cup tho. Camile Abily has also stayed in France. I tink Abby should go to New York. I will miss Gabara. DC could use him tho.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | September 28, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that no one has exploited this opportunity to dredge up Greg Ryan. And speaking of college coaches, I'm surprised that no one has suggested that the Freedom look eastward (as in Annapolis) for its next coach.

Posted by: universityandpark | September 28, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Wish her only the very best and hope there's some way after the WWC that we see her play for the Freedom again.

Posted by: clg0519 | September 28, 2010 10:01 PM

This source says that is unlikely: "She also stated that she would likely see out her final years as a professional with Lyon."

Posted by: universityandpark | September 28, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

How pathetic would it be for a 40 year old to beg Abby to stay with the Freedom???

Too bad, I am begging she stays local. I'll be devastated. The Freedom are so much fun to watch. And they truly care about their fans, especially the young ones.
With Sonia gone, and Abby considering it, the fun will fizzle.

Please Abby stay!!!

Posted by: abbyfan20 | October 1, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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