Head Coach / Technical Director - Jim Gabarra

The 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) season was Gabarra’s first campaign with Sky Blue FC. Gabarra spent the previous 10 years with the Washington Freedom, 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 in 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. After most recently advancing to the playoffs in consecutive WPS seasons, Gabarra stepped down from his position in Washington, making the highly successful coach available for the first time in over a decade.

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. As part of an affiliation between Sky Blue FC and the New Jersey Wildcats of the USL W-League, Gabarra served as head coach of the Wildcats during the 2012 W-League season.

Assistant Coach - Takayoshi Ishihara

A native of Aichi, Japan, Ishihara joins the New Jersey side after enjoying success at various levels of the Japanese soccer pyramid. He began his career as an assistant coach at Tsukuba University while concurrently holding a coaching/technical support role within the Japanese Football Association. He then spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Maebashi Ikuei High School and Teikyo High School, helping guide those programs to national prominence.

Ishihara moved to INAC Kobe Leonessa, a perennial power and winners of three straight Nadeshiko League titles and four consecutive Empress’ Cups. During his first season at INAC, Ishihara was an assistant coach to the first team while also serving as head coach of the U18 squad. In 2013, he was promoted to the first team head coaching position.

In his only season as head coach, Ishihara lead INAC to an unprecedented four titles, including three Japanese domestic trophies as well as the mobcast Cup International Women’s Club Championship. In the mobcast Cup, INAC defeated South American Champions Colo-Colo of Chile 3-0 in their semi-final contest. They then downed English power Chelsea Ladies 4-2 in the final. The four titles INAC won in 2013 set a record for most trophies captured by a professional women’s soccer team in one season.

Goalkeeper Coach - Jay Cooney

Jay Cooney joins the Sky Blue FC coaching staff after spending the past ten years as an assistant coach at Stanford University. Under his leadership, Stanford’s goalkeeping has consistently been among the best in the nation. Since joining the Cardinals in 2003, the program’s collective GAA is 0.55 and has been below 1.00 each season.

The Wellesley, Mass., native has developed goalkeepers such as U.S. Women’s National Team veteran and 2013 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Nicole Barnhart. All five regular starting goalkeepers during his tenure – Barnhart, Alex Gamble, Erica Holland, Kira Maker and Emily Oliver – are among the top 10 on Stanford’s all-time career shutout list.

While a member of the Cardinal coaching staff, Stanford made five trips to the NCAA Final Four in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and won the National Championship in 2011.

Cooney’s previous professional women’s soccer experience includes coaching the goalkeepers for the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer champion FC Gold Pride. He also coached the goalkeepers for the San Jose CyberRays, the 2001 Women’s United Soccer Association champion. Both Barnhart of FC Gold Pride and San Jose goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene were honored as Goalkeeper of the Year in their respective leagues.

Before heading to the South Bay, Cooney was an assistant coach at the College of William & Mary as well as an assistant director of Soccer Plus, a goalkeepers’ school owned by Tony DiCicco. In 1999, Cooney was an assistant coach at Providence College. 

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