[NWSL 2014 COUNTDOWN]Paul Riley hasn't coached a game in the NWSL, and he is already being asked about a job that would potentially take him away from the defending champion Portland Thorns, whom he joined in December flowing the resignation of Cindy Parlow Cone. The 50-year-old Englishman would likely be at the top or near the top of a very short list of candidates to replace Tom Sermanni as U.S. women's national team coach.
“The U.S. job is the No. 1 job in the world,” Riley said in an NWSL season preview conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “I’m very happy in Portland, but to say you wouldn’t be interested would be a lie, there’s no question.”
Riley came to the United States to attend Adelphi and has been a prominent youth coach on Long Island for many years with Albertson Soccer Club. He then returned in 2012 to the New York Fury of the WPSL Elite after WPS's demise. Riley was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. job after Pia Sundhage left following the 2012 Olympics and for the England job after Hope Powellleft following Euro 2013.
NWSL 2014 Countdown:
Clubs confirm rosters for new season
All regular-season games streamed on YouTube
Portland set the standard in the NWSL with an average attendance of 12,857, more than triple that of any other team in the league in its first season. It has added 2013 FIFA Women's Player of the Year Nadine Angerer, the goalkeeper on Germany's Euro 2013 championship team, and Amber Brooksfrom Bayern Munich and will welcome Spaniard Veronica Boquete, the 2011 WPS Player of the Year, later in the season from Sweden's Tyreso. The Thorns' preseason included a trip to Tucson, Ariz., for a week of training at the facilities used by MLS clubs.
“We train in probably the best facilities in America every day,” Riley said. “When we travel, we get treated first-class. It’s hard to argue with it. I’m in a great position.”
The Thorns are owned by Merritt Poulson, who also owns the MLS Timbers. He just joined the U.S. Soccer board of directors, putting him in a position to be on the inside in women's national team decision-making. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who has the final say in the matter of a new coach, will have to decide whether some part-time role for Riley or another NWSL coach would be be feasible in the short term, until the end of the NWSL season. Riley, for one, said he thought it was feasible though he cautioned he wasn't the one making the decision.
The Thorns will likely have four conflicts with women's fixture dates in 2014. (Like for the men, there is a FIFA women's international calendar.) The 2014 NWSL championship game is scheduled for Aug. 30, and Concacaf qualifying for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada will take place Oct 16-26 in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico.