Philadelphia Independence coach Paul Riley has guided his team all the way to second place in the standings. His efforts were rewarded with being named coach of Abby’s XI. Here he talks about his impressions of the team, what he thinks of A-Rod’s recent success, why the Independence have the best chemistry in the league and what the future holds for his beloved Liverpool FC.
AWK: Your passing and movement has looked fantastic. Is that part of your coaching philosophy?
PR: I think that you do off the ball is more important than what you do with the ball so if you can take care of the ball when you have it then you get a good combination. Players make X’s and O’s so if you’ve got good players who are technically good which we do obviously because these are the best players in the world, then it makes things easier for a coach. It’s almost like pick a team, roll the dice, and then see the fear in your enemies’ eyes.
AWK: I was amazed to see how quickly Abby’s XI adjusted to your system and your philosophy. It honestly looked like they’ve been playing together for a year.
It’s amazing because you come from Philly and you think you know, it’s going to be hard because it’s going to be like preseason again. But once you started doing the drilled they were like flying. Everyone’s peeling out, checking in, there was great movement and everyone had a lot of energy on the field. What I like about it is that they’re hungry, they want to win. There is a rivalry because there’s internationals on the other team so that will add a little bit of grit to the game. I’m not sure there’s enough defenders on the two squads. Very few.
AWK: I saw a lot of defenders making runs in and crossing. Did you tell them to do that?
PR: Well we’ve only got 3 in the back so we’re gonna play a 3-5-2. We’re gonna let them run around. The question is whether we’ll get caught out as the other team has 3 in the front.
AWK: Do you know what two players are playing up top?
PR: I’m going with Abby and Aluko.
AWK: I saw Cheney in the midfield which is good because she can hold the ball up really well.
JP: We showed you our patent with the two up front. Then the triangle behind them and then two players which will be O’Reilly and Chalupny. So hopefully we can get in good areas and cause problems. Their three will cause our three some problems in the back but Chalupny and O’Reilly will need to help us out at the back and give us some structure as I think we’ll be struggling a little bit.
To be honest, the girls want to play so badly. It’s a great environment and they picked the right place to play. Practice was great. Because you come down and you wonder if they like each other, you don’t know. Me and Abby have had our battles on the sideline when they play us but it’s all in professional. We’re both on the same team so we both have the same goal.