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NC Courage’s Paul Riley not interested ‘at this time’ in USWNT job

Cross one name off the list of potential candidates to replace Jill Ellis.

North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley watches his team on the first day of training on March 5, 2019. (Mitchell Northam / Pro Soccer USA)

It’s unclear who the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team will be when Jill Ellis steps aside later this year, but we found out Tuesday who it won’t be.

Paul Riley, the head coach of the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage, sent a tweet out saying that he wasn’t interested in the job “at this time.”

“Been some conversation recently regarding USWNT job. Although flattered I am determined to continue the project we started in (western New York) and not interested in job at this time,” Riley tweeted. “NC Courage is amazing group and there is nothing like day-to-day (development) of players.”

Steve Malik, the owner of the Courage and the USL Championship’s North Carolina FC, tweeted his support for Riley.

“Courage country should be smiling,” Malik tweeted. “The rest of (the) NWSL hasn’t seen our best yet. We appreciate (Riley’s) commitment to constant improvement.”

Riley had been mentioned as a potential replacement for Ellis because of his success in the NWSL and his familiarity with the players in the national team pool.

Having a big say in who will be the next coach of the U.S. national team is Kate Markgraf. The former national team defender – who played in three World Cups and three Olympics – was hired to be the general manager for the national team earlier this month.

Prior to taking the post, Markgraf worked as an analyst for ESPN. In an ESPNFC segment after Ellis announced she would resign, Markgraf threw out Riley’s name as a potential replacement. Markgraf also mentioned Florida State’s Mark Krikorian, Reign FC’s Vlatko Andonovski and Laura Harvey of the Utah Royals.

Markgraf said that Riley was “the most successful NWSL coach.”

Since 2016, when he became the coach of the Western New York Flash – which moved to North Carolina in 2017 and became the Courage – Riley has won a pair of NWSL championships, two NWSL shields and has twice been named the league’s Coach of the Year. The Courage also won the Women’s International Champions Cup in 2018 under Riley’s direction.

The 55-year-old Liverpool, England native has also coached several players on the U.S. national team. Most recently, four Courage players – Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper and Jessica McDonald – featured on the 2019 World Cup-winning squad. Other Courage players like McCall Zerboni, Lynn Williams, Merritt Mathias, Jaelene Hinkle and veteran midfielder Heather O’Reilly have also featured for the national team.

The Courage are 8-4-4 this season, sitting in third place in the NWSL table.

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