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Pauliina Miettinen out as Sky Blue FC head coach

Posted on 20 July 2010 by lbarker

Pauliina Miettinen has apparently run out of tickets to continue riding the ever-popular ‘Sky Blue FC Coaching Carousel Ride.’  On Monday the New Jersey-based club announced that head coach Miettinen had been “relieved of her coaching duties.”  Miettinen’s axing came just one day after Sky Blue suffered a disappointing home loss to the bottom-of-the-table Atlanta Beat.  Assistant coach Anne Parnila was also informed that she could no longer ride this ride.  “We respect Pauliina a great deal and appreciate the effort she put forth for our organization,” said Sky Blue FC General Manager Gerry Marrone in a statement from the team.  “Her hard work and passion for the team and the game were never in question. Sometimes, a situation simply does not work out. That is part of the learning process involved when it comes to professional sports. We have to be resilient, as well as continue to adapt and grow.”

Miettinen was brought in by Sky Blue FC in September of 2009, little more than a month after the team won the inaugural WPS Championship with team captain and central defender Christie Rampone at the helm.  Rampone was named player/coach of Sky Blue on June 30, 2009 after Kelly Lindsey unexpectedly resigned with just two regular season games remaining and the team fighting for a playoff spot.  From her spot on the backline Rampone, along with her long-time trainer Mike Lyons* acting as the assistant on the sidelines, guided the Blue and Orange to a 1-1 record through those two final games.  From there the team embarked on a Cinderella-like run through the WPS playoffs, capturing the title with an upset victory over the top-seeded Los Angeles Sol.  Lindsey’s resignation had been especially shocking because she was already Sky Blue’s second coach, coming on after the team’s original head coach, Ian Sawyers, was fired just six games into the ’09 season.  Lindsey was an assistant under Sawyers, but took over the reigns after, as Sky Blue CEO Thomas Hofstetter put it then, “The disagreements between the coach, team and management made it impossible to move forward successfully.”  Lindsey managed to double Sawyers’ six-game tenure – lasting a dozen matches, and helping Sky Blue become a playoff contender – before making her exit.

Sky Blue has had an up-and-down season under Miettinen, the most consistency often coming in the fact that the New Jersey team was perhaps the most inconsistent in WPS.  Sky Blue started the 2010 season with high hopes for defending their title.  Just six minutes in to the season opener Tasha Kai scored what would be the game winner against the Chicago Red Stars.  Kai’s goal on April 11th, 2010 still stands as the only run-of-play goal the team has scored at home this season (Rosana converted a penalty kick on June 19th in Sky Blue’s 4-1 loss to Philadelphia).  Through Miettinen’s 14 game stay in the Garden State Sky Blue has amassed a 5-6-3 record, including a dominant 2-0 win over league leaders FC Gold Pride and the aforementioned [ugly] loss to the last-place Beat.  The team has often looked disconnected and occasionally uninterested, managing just 12 goals through 14 games and what has seemed at times like 1,000 different formations.  The last time anyone in blue and orange found the back of the net for Sky Blue was on July 10th.  Unfortunately it was an own goal from Daphne Koster, whose wayward clearance beat Sky Blue GK Kristin Luckenbill to put the opposing Chicago Red Stars up by two.  The last goal in the correct net came from Kai in the 88th minute of the win at Gold Pride – 272 minutes (that’s 3 full games plus 2 minutes) ago.

Rick Stainton has been named Sky Blue FC’s new head coach.  The New Jersey native is the team’s fifth in one-and-a-half seasons (for you math lovers that’s: 34 regular season games = 3,060 minutes / 5 coaches = an average of a new coach every 612 minutes or 6.8 games).  Stainton comes to Sky Blue FC from Sky Blue FC, where he’s been serving as the team’s goalkeeper coach.  “This is an opportunity that I truly look forward to embracing,” he said. Before coming to Sky Blue at the beginning of the 2010 season, Stainton was the administrator of the women’s soccer program at Seton Hall University, working alongside current US U-17 Women’s NT head coach Kazbek Tambi.  He’s also held various coaching positions at Caldwell College, Rider University and with the W-League NJ Wildcats.  “I am extremely humbled and appreciative of the trust that the organization is showing in me to complete the task at hand,” said Stainton.  “In talking with the team, they have shown a sincere confidence in the direction in which we are going and our ability to be successful. Together, I know we can achieve great things going forward, both on and off the field.”
Sky Blue has ten regular season games remaining and are currently in third place on the seven-team table, with 18 points.  Stainton will make his head coaching debut in the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday, when Sky Blue heads south to take on the second-place Independence.

*Speaking of Mike Lyons, what ever happened to that guy?

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