Boyds, Md., (9/18/19) – The Washington Spirit are a young team. With many players having less than one year of experience in the league, Spirit head coach Richie Burke is no different. Much like his squad comprised in part of rookies and league-newcomers, Burke has not needed much time to adjust.
The Spirit jumped to the top of the NWSL early into the season after winning five of their first eight games. Burke’s squad outscored their opponents 12-4 and recorded four clean sheets through that span.
A large part of the team’s success can be credited to the quick adaptation of Burke’s fast, organized and possession-based style of play. The Spirit have made 9,041 passes this season and average 476 passes per game along with a 79 percent successful pass rate. In 2018, the Spirit completed passes at a 71 percent rate, and made 64 less passes per game. In addition, the team’s ball possession jumped from 49% in 2018 to 55% this season.
Burke has also explained that part of the success of the team also comes from building relationships with the players while spending time together.
“I actually love my team, I love working with them and being at the training ground,” Burke said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington. “You show up on a daily basis with a smile on your face because you actually love what you do.”
The first year coach’s passion for his team is displayed on the sideline after almost every Spirit goal, including this Chloe Logarzo goal on Sept. 14.
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) September 15, 2019
With one of the youngest teams in the NWSL, Coach Burke has also emphasized the importance of player development and building towards the future.
“We will be results-oriented but we want to be aesthetically good too,” Burke said in an article for the Washington Post. “I am not interested in subscribing to a style of play that is all about wins at any cost because, from a player development standpoint, these young players need to play better football.”
The Liverpool native has held coaching positions for D.C. United, the United States Soccer Federation, Livingston and multiple youth football academies. He also played for Liverpool and Everton’s youth academies, as well as making appearances for the Washington Diplomats, the Washington Stars, Sydney Olympic, Chester City, and American University.