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Washington Spirit has hired FC Barcelona Femeni coach Jonatan Giráldez Costas as new head coach the club announced on Tuesday. Giraldez will join the Spirit following the conclusion of Barcelona's season. The Spirit have plans to hire an interim head coach in the meantime with a separate announcement at a later date.

"We conducted an extensive global, data-driven search and found that Jona is the best choice to lead our players. His commitment to excellence and high performance is second to none and the results speak for themselves including consecutive La Liga and Supercopa titles and multiple top coach honors," said Spirit owner Michele Kang. "We are grateful for his decision to join us. He will help take the Spirit to the next level for both players and fans."

A coach for the future?

Kang recently acquired European women's clubs Olympic Lyon and London City Lionesses. The Spirit was the first women's club she obtained in her ever-growing movement to have a woman-owned and led multi-club organization. 

The appointment of Giraldez marks another head coach in a turnstile of managers and interims for the club since 2021, and could signal stability for the Spirit in role for the first time in years. 

"Jona's combined experience in the developmental youth sections and at the highest level of professional play make him the ideal head coach to help us achieve our vision," said Spirit President of Soccer Operations Mark Krikorian. "Jona knows how to develop players into champions. He will bring a beautiful style of play to the Spirit that we know our fans will enjoy."

After spending time coaching youth teams in Catalonia, he joined FC Barcelona in 2019 as an assistant and helped the squad win their first UEFA Women's Champions League title during the 2020-21 campaign.

Giraldez has since earned several achievements with FC Barcelona, including one Queen's Cup, two Supercopas, two Primera División titles, the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League title, and a perfect record 50-game winning streak in the Spanish league, Liga F. He was named IFFHS Women's World's Best Club Coach in 2023 and is currently one of three nominees for the best FIFA women's coach of 2023.

He also holds a UEFA Pro Coaching license and has extended coaching credentials, including a degree in Sports Science by the Universidad de Barcelona and three different master's degrees in high performance, collective sports and soccer.

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The Emma Hayes of it all

Giraldez won't be on the sidelines with the Spirit until after the conclusion of FC Barcelona's season, which could run through the end of the Champions League which concludes with the final on May 25. 

"I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the team and become part of the Washington Spirit family. It's a great honor and a greater responsibility to help bring the club to the next level, so I will dedicate my heart and soul to make everyone around the team proud and part of something great," said Giráldez. "I really want to thank Michele and Mark for the opportunity my family and myself have been given. I will be looking forward to meeting the staff, players and fans in DC soon."

Conceding a bit of time to obtain a club's ideal candidate is now a theme in women's soccer. It's no longer a unique coaching scenario after U.S. Soccer hired Chelsea FC manager Emma Hayes as the next USWNT head coach. Hayes will also join the USWNT sidelines after Chelsea's club season. 

What's next

The club will navigate the upcoming 2024 NWSL Draft on Jan. 12, the Spirit have two first-round selections (No. 7 and No. 13) as the preseason gets closer. The Spirit will announce an interim to take charge of the team as the regular season begins on March 15.