PORTLAND, Ore. – Paul Riley is in a rare position for a new coach: He has inherited a championship team.
Riley is taking over the defending NWSL champion Portland Thorns, who open their second season Saturday night against the expansion Houston Dash.
The Thorns' former coach, former U.S. national team midfielder Cindy Parlow Cone, unexpectedly stepped down to spend more time with her family a few months after Portland's 2-0 victory over the Western New York Flash in the league's inaugural title game.
Parlow Cone is a tough act to follow, Riley said. But the Thorns will tweak a few things in their quest to repeat, adopting their new coach's aggressive, attack-oriented system.
That could be daunting for the Dash, who were just announced as the league's ninth team in December.