The Washington Spirit announced the permanent hiring of acting manager Kris Ward, naming him the club’s official head coach going into the 2022 season.
Ward first joined the NWSL side as technical staff in August 2020, serving as Team Tactical Analysis & Player Performance Development Coach. After the removal of coach Richie Burke following a league investigation in early August 2021, Ward was named acting head coach.
“Kris guided this team through a turbulent season that ultimately led to our club’s first championship win,” said Spirit President Ben Olsen. “When you look at his record, it’s clear that he’s earned this. But more than that, he has helped to foster a positive environment for the players. We are very excited to keep him with us and look forward to the 2022 season.”
Since leading, he managed a 9-2-3 record in which both losses were forfeits due to Coronavirus-related issues. Ward then capped off his manager tenure by inspiring the Washington Spirit to the club’s first ever NWSL championship.
“I’m very excited to be continuing as the head coach here in Washington,” said Ward. “We’re building something special with this club and I’m honored to continue to be a part of it.”
Prior to joining the National Women’s Soccer League side, Kris Ward served in the scouting department for MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC, as an executive director of coaching with DC Soccer Club and as a First Assistant with the Spirit in the club’s first year in the NWSL.
Ward and the Washington Spirit will enter the NWSL’s tenth season looking to defend the club’s first league title. The 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup is set to kick off March 19, where all teams will compete for the title until May 7.