Posted on September 11, 2012
By Michael Lewis
Paul Riley has thrown in his hat into the ring to become U.S. national women’s coach.
Riley said on Monday that he had sent in his resume to U.S. Soccer and general secretary Dan Flynn and will be among an undetermined number of candidates that will start the process with phone interviews
U.S. Soccer has begun its search for a successor for Pia Sundhage, who has moved on after four years to coach the national side in her native Sweden.
“Hopefully they will get the decision made pretty quick so every one can move on to whatever they need to do.” Riley said. “The sooner the better for everybody. . . . I think the short list will probably go into Chicago [for interviews].”
Riley, who coached the Philadelphia Independence in Women’s Professional Soccer, said he hoped that his background of coaching professionals, which has included U.S. and foreign National Team players, will go a long way in U.S. Soccer’s decision-making process. He also has background at the grass roots level, where he has identified young talent.
“I think the experience that we’ve had in the pro league, dealing with the best players in the world and managing them for a couple of years and training them, I think that’s very important,” he said. “There’s a big difference between the pro players and the college players. It’s a huge difference in terms of mentality, in terms of what their needs are. I think it’s a huge step from college to the professional player. Hopefully, they will learn towards someone who has dealt with the pro players, been around the pro players and obviously knows the top Under-20 and top Under-17 players, the top Under-23′s and maybe all of the players who maybe got missed on the trip to London.”
In an interview on Monday, Riley stressed the importance of a women’s professional league in the United States and how vital it is to the success and development of the women’s game in this country.
“Whoever they pick, the league is probably more important . . . The improvement of the game here to stay ahead of the rest of the world,” Riley said. “It’s important whoever they pick, the coach has to work get the league up and running. You just can’t have a coach not support the league and not be involved in the league.”
Riley, who lives on Long Island, directed the Independence to a pair of WPS championship games. The league folded earlier this year.
“If we were together, we can produce a lot more players for the national team,” he said, saying the player pool needed to be expanded. “If Steven Gerard has a bad game for Liverpool, then England doesn’t pick him. If [Frank] Lampard is going through a bad [time], England doesn’t pick him. But that doesn’t happen here.”
Players needed, well, to play on a regular basis at the highest level possible to hone their skills. With no domestic league, U.S. National Team players are considering playing in Europe.
“You need a league where they’re playing every week so the coach who comes in can make that decision,” Riley said.
“People will get an opportunity play in the league. Lori Lindsey did. I think you’ll get a lot more coming through and more versatility from these players. Maybe things will start to change a little bit, more players in and out. It will be less consistency in the squad. but i think it will add competition for spots for sure.”
The next major competition for the women’s team won’t be until 2015, when Canada hosts the Women’s World Cup. Riley felt the U.S. cannot afford to wait that long to get another women’s pro league established.
“You’ve seen what happens. When you get to the third or fourth year, nobody cares about the league again,” he said. “The league has got to be built and be strong before the next World Cup, before the Olympics. The league has to carry through without the players.”
And if it doesn’t happen?
“We’ll be back in the same position in four years,” Riley said. “Do we want a league for Amy Rodriguez and [Lauren] Cheney? That’s where they go back and play. That’s where they’re going to learn their trade. Coming into camp two weeks a month they’re never going to make you a better player. Where they’re training eight to nine months, they’re around the ball 10 months a year between the national team and their pro team. then they would have a month or two off, like they do in England or in any other country.”
Riley used the example of the improvement of Germany in the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, which the U.S. won on Saturday. The Germans defeated the Americans in their group game, 3-0, and did not surrendered a goal until the U.S.’s 1-0 win in the championship game.
“Four years ago the U.S. was battering them,” Riley said. “The Germans played very well up until the final. The U.S. did a great job in the final. We won the game. these kids now go to college. but those kids are going back to the Bundesliga. I think we’re going to continue to get these countries closer and closer to us. We need to make sure this league is in place, stable and with a good business plan and these players are making good money and a successful business structure for the owners. It would be a huge help to the national team coach, whoever it is.”
Riley has excelled on just about every level of the game.
A native of Liverpool, England, Riley was an All-American at Adelphi University. He went on to become arguably the best player in the amateur and semi-pro leagues in the metropolitan area. He became captain of the Long Island Rough Riders and helped the team win the 1995 U.S. Interregional Soccer League title along with Tony Meola, Giovanni Savarese and Jim Rooney.
After he hanging up hiscompetitive boots, Riley went into coaching and was just as successful. He directed the C.W. Post men’s team for several years and then the Rough Riders, guiding the club to the USL Second Division title in 2002. He also coached girls teams at the Huntington Boys Club. He eventually moved over to the Albertson Soccer Club and starting a soccer dynasty at the Long Island Junior Soccer League club.
The Albertson Fury girls teams went on to earn more than four dozen Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association State Cup titles, including a Region I crown and has won numerous other tournaments.
Riley established the Long Island Fury, which captured Women’s Premier Soccer League championships in 2006 and 2009. That got the attention of the WPS and Riley wound up coaching in Philadelphia for two years. After the WPS folded, Riley returned to LI and established the New York Fury, which competed in the WPSL Elite League this year.
Photo: Paul Riley: “You just can’t have a coach not support the league and not be involved in the league.” Photo by Joy Rubenstein.>/strong>
Categories: North America, U.S.A., Women
Tags: Albertson Fury, Dan Flynn, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association, FIFA Under-20 women's World Cup, Frank Lampard, Giovanni Savarese, Huntington Boys Club, Jim Rooney, Long Island Fury, Long Island Junior Soccer League, Long Island Rough Riders, New York Fury, Paul Riley, Philadelphia Indepenence, Pia Sundhage, Steven Gerard, Tony Meola, U.S. Soccer, Women's Professional Soccer