January 30, 2012
PICKING UP THE PIECES
Riley: players, coaches, employees are devastated, gutted and with broken hearts
By Michael Lewis
|Philly coach Paul Riley has been dealing with the suspended WPS with his players and coaching staff.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
SALT LAKE CITY -- The news was sudden, stunning and swift.
Needless to say, the players, coaches and employees of the various teams were "devastated," with "broken hearts" and "gutted" over the news that Women's Professional Soccer decided to suspend the 2012 season on Monday, according to Paul Riley. The league has been in existence since 2009.
Riley is one of the most visible faces in all of female soccer. Long Island and New York fans might know him better as the former coach and current director of football of the Long Island Fury and the New York Fury. His Albertson Fury teams have been perennial Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association State Cups winners every June..
For the past two years, Riley has been coach of the Philadelphia Independence directing the franchise into two WPS championship games.
Needless to say, Riley was as surprised as anyone else.
"Just devastated for the players and employees for the franchise," Riley said in an email. "A lot of broken hearts this morning and a lot of sad stories."
Riley said that he was "trying to reach out to each player and sort each situation out for the betterment of the players. We were excited to get started in March and our squad was eagerly anticipating the season."
Now everyone else has been forced to make other plans.
The Independence management was trying to pick up the pieces for itself and players.
"The players and my entire backroom staff are gutted, but we want this league to work and we will do everything we can to see [the] Philadelphia Independence step onto PPL/Widener in the spring of 2013."
The legal problems stemming from the magicJack franchise, which was booted out of the league last season, and owner Dan Borislow has been the biggest headache for the league.
"The litigation has been the major obstacle," Riley said. "It seems in life it's the little people who get hurt the most . . . THE PLAYERS. We have the best players in the world trying to ply their trade day in and day out and today them find themselves with no job due to legal wranglings that has nothing to do with them."
Riley said he was "hopeful" that the league will return in 2013.
"All signals are that the five ownership groups will do their best to ensure WPS returns in 2013 as the best women's league in the world," he said.
Riley said he was confident that Independence owner David Halstead would find a way to return the team to competition.
"Their support for women's soccer has been immense," he said. "I have nothing but gratitude for David Halstead for the amazing support he has given the Philly franchise. It has been a huge undertaking and he has approached every obstacle in a professional, optimistic and forthright manner."