Paul Riley’s North Carolina Courage won the NWSL Shield. (Andy Mead/YJC Photo)
Long-time Long Island resident Paul Riley, the coach of the North Carolina Courage, is one of three finalists for National Women’s Soccer League coach of the year, the league announced Wednesday.
Last year Riley directed the Western New York Flash to the NWSL crown.
During the offseason, the Flash moved to North Carolina as the Bay Shore, N.Y. resident continued to direct the team, which captured the NWSL regular season title.
A quick look at the three finalists:
Paul Riley — North Carolina Courage
Riley guided the team to a record-tying 16 regular-season wins as the Courage went on to claim the NWSL Shield in the first season in its new home. Riley has helped to prepare players for the international stage with their respective national teams – as shown most recently by the emergence of Taylor Smith with the U.S. women’s national team as well as the continued growth and success of Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis, Lynn Williams, Ashley Hatch, Debinha and Denise O’Sullivan.
Rory Dames – Chicago Red Stars
With a record of 11-7-6 (39 points), Dames is the only coach to have earned 30 or more points in every one of the five NWSL seasons. With Chicago from the start of the league, Dames is also the only coach in the playoffs to have been with the team since the NWSL’s inaugural year in 2013. The Red Stars earned a third consecutive trip to the postseason this year as Dames became one of three coaches to make at least three consecutive playoff appearances (along with Vlatko Andonovski in 2013-15 and Mark Parsons 2014-17).
Tom Sermanni – Orlando Pride
In just a year, Sermanni has led the team from a fledgling side that finished in ninth place in 2016 to a championship contender this year. Sermanni and his players catapulted six spots up the standings, finishing No. 3 overall in the team’s second year. The former U.S. women’s national team coac transformed the roster, bringing in impact players such as Marta, Ali Krieger, Alanna Kennedy, Camila, Chioma Ubogagu and Rachel Hill, while developing the chemistry with returnees Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris and Dani Weatherholt. The Pride offense became the most potent in the league, scoring 45 goals across 11 players, compared to 20 goals between six players in 2016.