Portland Thorns FC announced on Wednesday that Paul Riley will not return as head coach in 2016. The Englishman’s contract was up after 2015, a season that ended in disappointment when the Thorns finished 6-9-5 and missed the playoffs for the first time.
“On behalf of Thorns FC, I would like to thank Paul for his services to the club these past two seasons,” general manager Gavin Wilkinson said in a brief statement.
Riley threw his own future into question near the end of the season when he suggested it would be difficult on his family to leave them home on the East Coast for another season coaching in Portland. The tersely-worded release though, hints that the Thorns made the call not to offer Riley a new contract. Wilkinson conducted a conference call earlier this month when he said Riley was being evaluated.
There was no immediate word on the fate of Riley’s assistants or any leads regarding a replacement.
The Thorns hired Riley after Cindy Parlow Cone stepped down following one season that was filled with tumult but ended in a championship. Riley led the Thorns into the playoffs in 2014 where they lost in the semifinals, 2-0 in Kansas City. The 2015 season began 2-0 but unraveled quickly after that. Injuries to Alex Morgan and Jodie Taylor were just the start of the team’s troubles. A large group of World Cup players left the team lacking offensive bite through the heart of the summer. Morgan needed minor surgery after the World Cup and Taylor never reached full strength. Emily Menges, Christine Sinclair, and Stephanie Catley also missed time through injury. International signing Ayo Anonma showed good energy but was unable to contribute consistently to the attack.
“Thanks to everyone at the Thorns for the amazing opportunity and to the fans who truly make Portland, Soccer City, USA,” Riley said in the team’s release.
Riley’s two-year, regular season record with the Thorns was 16-17-11 plus 0-1 in the playoffs.
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