Long Branch, N.J. (Friday, April 20, 2012) – The New Jersey Wildcats of the USL W-League made official on Friday that the team has formed an affiliation with Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). As part of the union, current Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra will assume that same position for the Wildcats during the 2012 season, with Kevin McDermott taking over the position of associate coach.
“We have been working on an affiliation between Sky Blue FC and the Wildcats since last fall, and we decided to move forward despite the suspension of the 2012 WPS season,” Gabarra said of the union. “With our relationship, I will be coming aboard to coach the current team that the Wildcats have in place, which is a very good group. I am looking forward to working with a new group of players, and, as with every team, expectations are to make the playoffs and compete to win a championship.”
Gabarra spent 10 years with the Washington Freedom before joining Sky Blue FC as its head coach, and he was the only coach to lead his team to the playoffs in each of the first two WPS seasons. He began his tenure in Washington in 2001, leading the Freedom to back-to-back appearances in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) Championship Game in both the 2002 and 2003 campaigns. After winning the 2003 league title in what became the final year of WUSA, Gabarra continued the success with Washington into the USL W-League. He again reached the pinnacle of the sport when he led the Freedom to the 2007 W-League Championship, also being named a W-League Coach of the Year Finalist. Over the past 13 months with Sky Blue FC, Gabarra also orchestrated international soccer tours with the club that included trips to both Turkey and Japan.
“There are a lot of teams in this area, and I think Kevin and the Wildcats have done a very good job in developing a really quality club with teams and players of all levels,” Gabarra continued. “An affiliation between Sky Blue FC and the Wildcats makes sense for both organizations, and we are at the onset of a very good relationship here.”
As a player, Gabarra capped 14 times for the U.S. National Team from 1986-1989, including his playing in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. The Key West native also enjoyed a prolific career in professional indoor soccer and served as captain of the U.S. National Futsal Team from 1986-1996. He originally began his professional playing career outdoors in 1982 when he debuted with the Detroit Express of the American Soccer League (ASL), winning a league championship in his first season of play. The Connecticut College Hall of Fame member then took his game indoors in 1984 with the Louisville Thunder, making successful stops with multiple clubs from then until 1993, also taking his first crack at coaching on the indoor platform.
“We are very excited about the addition of Jim Gabarra to our staff, a proven championship coach who has seen a great deal of success at every level of the game,” said McDermott, who is also a co-owner and serves as President of the Wildcats. “With his knowledge and experience being presented to our organization, we have now taken our high expectations for this season to an even greater degree. We are also pleased to have formally united with Sky Blue FC, and we look forward to developing our relationship together.”
In addition to Gabarra taking over the role of head coach for the Wildcats, the two organizations will also work together in marketing efforts and consideration with players.