When Cindy Parlow Cone stepped down as the head coach for the Portland Thorns last Thursday speculation had already started that Paul Riley would be taking over the position. Now, less than a week later, Merritt Paulson has confirmed Riley's hire on twitter.
EDIT: The Thorns have now issued a release confirming the hire as well.
A former midfielder who came up through the US collegiate system and spent his entire career in the states, Riley has firm roots in the US's Women's soccer leagues. Taking over the Philadelphia Independence in 2009, Riley was named the Coach of the Year in 2010 and took his team to the title match in 2011, a game they lost to the Western New York Flash, featuring Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Alex Morgan, in penalties.
Riley, who has been coaching at the collegiate and professional levels since graduating from Adelphi University in 1985, is known as a tactical coach who is able to get the best from his players. Inheriting a championship-winning Thorns side already stacked with talent, the expectations are certainly high for the 2014 season, but Riley seems like the man to step in and continue the Thorns' success.
Beyond his time with Philadelphia, Riley has also coached the Long Island Rough Riders of the USL PDL, and was a founder and coach of the Long Island Fury, who play in the WPSL. Riley was also rumored to be in the running for the head coaching position with the USWNT after Pia Sundhage stepped down in 2012.
The Thorns' press release:
THORNS FC NAME PAUL RILEY AS HEAD COACH FOR 2014 SEASON
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC today named Paul Riley as the club’s head coach for the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League season. Riley has compiled a lengthy head coaching career at the youth, collegiate and professional levels.
Previously serving as head coach of the Philadelphia Independence in Women’s Professional Soccer, Riley, 50, helped build the club into one of the best teams in the league reaching the WPS Championship match in each of the team’s two seasons. A two-time WPS Coach of the Year selection (2010, 2011), Riley compiled a 21-14-7 regular-season record in two seasons at the helm in Philadelphia, including a mark of 11-4-3 during the 2011 season.
“Paul is an accomplished coach and we have been very impressed with his knowledge of the Thorns FC organization, the NWSL and the women’s game at the highest levels” said Gavin Wilkinson, Portland Timbers and Thorns FC general manager. “His experience in managing top-level players was of paramount importance. Paul shares our belief that the Thorns should be perennial championship contenders. We, the staff and players, are delighted to welcome Paul to the organization.”
Having coached at every level, Riley began his women’s coaching career with the Long Island Fury of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) in 2005, leading the club to a national championship in its inaugural 2006 season and a second title in 2009. Riley was named WPSL Coach of the Year in 2009 and, most recently, coached the team during their 2013 WPSL campaign. With the advent of WPSL Elite in 2012, Riley took charge of the New York Fury, helping guide the club to the semifinal round of the playoffs.
“It is a fantastic opportunity with a club renowned for its success both on and off the field,” Riley said. “It’s a great challenge and I look forward to integrating a style of play that fans in Portland will embrace. Portland is a special place for soccer and I share their passion, a love and appetite for a creative, attacking style of play.
“We have a fabulous core group of players and I’m excited to work with such a hungry, motivated and talented group. Our goal is to bring another championship to Portland and further cement the Thorns in the mystique of this great soccer city.”
A native of Liverpool, England, Riley has served as a youth coach and director of coaching for Long Island-based Albertson Soccer Club since 1994, helping build one of the most well-known youth development clubs in the Northeast.
Prior to coaching women’s soccer, Riley began his professional coaching career as head coach of the Long Island Rough Riders from 1998-2003, earning USL A-League Coach of the Year honors in 1999 and guiding the Rough Riders to the USL D3 Pro League championship in 2002.
At the collegiate level, Riley served as head coach of the LIU Post men’s soccer team from 1990-97, registering an 88-49-13 overall record and garnering New York Collegiate Athletic Conference (now East Coast Conference) Coach of the Year recognition five times (1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997).
As a player, Riley spent a 10-year professional career in the Northeast with the Albany Capitals (1988), New Jersey Eagles (1989-92) and Long Island Rough Riders (1994-98).
A midfielder at Adelphi University from 1982-85, Riley holds the program’s all-time career record in assists (43). In his senior season in 1985, Riley recorded 47 points (15g, 17a) and helped lead the Panthers to a No. 24 national ranking. Third on the all-time list in career points (121), Riley was named to the Adelphi Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.
Riley graduated from Adelphi in 1986 with a degree in journalism and English. He earned a master’s degree in marketing and advertising from LIU Post in 1989. Riley and his wife, Tracy, reside in Long Island, N.Y.