Paul Riley has guided the Courage to an amazing run in the NWSL. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
When you think of women’s soccer coaches who have enjoyed success over the years, Paul Riley usually winds up at the top of just about everyone’s list.
After all, he has directed his current National Women’s Soccer League team to three league championships over the last four seasons, including in 2019 with the North Carolina Courage.
Despite losing seven players to the Women’s World Cup for several weeks during the season, the Courage bounced back with a late surge to the season and cruised to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars in the final.
For his team’s accomplishments, Riley was selected the FrontRowSoccer.com women’s pro coach of the year. Riley lives in Bay Shore, N.Y.
During their three years in North Carolina under Riley, the Courage has recorded a 48-13-11 regular season mark, winning the Supporters Shield all three times. That included a 16-5-4 finish in 2019.
Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Riley emigrated to the United States to pursue an education at Adelphi University more than three decades ago.
Not surprisingly, he became a dominant player for Adelphi before bringing his talents to the amateur and semi-pro soccer circuit, where he became one of the more outstanding players in New York.
Riley captained the Long Island Rough Riders for four years, including their run to the 1995 U.S. Interregional Soccer League title, before he was named coach of the team in 1998. He guided the team to the 2002 USL Pro crown, a side that included future MetroStars, Red Bulls and Cosmos standout Carlos Mendes, who currently coaches the Cosmos. He also coached the C.W. Post men’s team for eight years.
During that time Riley began to coach girls teams, first with HBC and then with Albertson SC, turning the latter into one of the most successful clubs as teams regularly won Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Cups.
Riley formed the Long Island Fury, a women’s team, in 2006 before jumping to the professional ranks with the Philadelphia Independence in 2010-11, reaching the Women’s Professional Soccer final twice. He coached the New York Fury for two years before latching onto the Portland Thorns from 2014-15 and then the Western New York Flash for the 2016.
The Flash trained in Buffalo and played in Rochester, N.Y. for its home games as it won the NWSL title before the team moved to North Carolina for the 2017 season. The Courage also captured championships in 2018 and this past year.