Sky Blue FC and the New Jersey Wildcats of the USL W-League have announced they will be entering into a partnership with one another, and that part of that partnership includes Sky Blue head coach Jim Gabarra taking over the head coaching responsibility with the Wildcats, while Kevin McDermott will take on the post of associate coach. A further part of the union between the teams is that the two clubs will work together on marketing efforts and player considerations.
“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.”
For his part, McDermott, who is also the co-owner and serves as president of the Wildcats, said, “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. 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.”
One of the first big decisions made by this partnership was to bring former Sky Blue FC player and New Jersey native and U.S. National Team Midfielder Yael Averbuch onto the roster of the Wildcats.
“Yael is a very technical player, and she brings to us a lot of experience in WPS and with the national team,” Gabarra remarked. “She will provide us with leadership, as well as stability, in the middle of the field. She will certainly be a big part of the back bone of this team. Additionally, I think it is really important we get as many New Jersey players as possible involved with the Wildcats and Sky Blue FC, long-term wise.”
Once she finished up college, Averbuch became the fourth overall pick in the 2009 WPS College Draft by the New Jersey-based club Sky Blue FC, which recently formed an official partnership with the Wildcats. She made 14 starts over 18 matches during her rookie year, also helping Sky Blue FC to an unlikely run to the inaugural WPS Championship after winning three road games in eight days. She remained with the team for her sophomore campaign as a professional, making 19 starts over 23 games and scoring a dazzling game-winning volley against the Philadelphia Independence. This past WPS season, she played with the Western New York Flash and helped the club to the league title, her second championship in three years as a professional. At the conclusion of the 2012 WPS season, Averbuch headed overseas to Russia and played with FC Rossiyanka.
No further information has been released regarding the new partnership between the two clubs. It will be interesting indeed to see how this union grows and whether both clubs will see a positive return on it. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a feeder system for the top clubs like the sort we see in Europe.