Thorns coach Mark Parsons says he knew of Riley investigation


Portland Thorns head coach Mark Parsons shared Wednesday night just how much he knew about Paul Riley’s firing in 2015.

“I was made aware that an incident, an investigation had happened that the coach was let go because of that he would never be hired by this club again,” Parsons said. “It was an area where I wasn’t allowed and wasn’t able to know more.”

Parsons was hired in 2016, after Riley had left the club. Parsons is set to depart the Portland Thorns at the end of the season to take over the Netherlands’ Women’s National Team.

The Thorns have been at the center of the NWSL’s latest controversy after allegations of abuse by Riley were detailed in The Athletic last week.

Thorns owner Merritt Paulson released a statement on Monday saying the club severed ties with Riley in 2015 after conducting an internal investigation into his conduct. However, in 2015, no such investigation was made public, and the club only said they weren’t renewing Riley’s contract, implying it was due to poor on-field results.

Paulson has since said the Thorns terminated Riley, rather than not renew his contract, and has apologized for the team’s role in the scandal.

On Wednesday, the team placed General Manager Gavin Wilkinson on administrative leave following calls for his removal from supporters groups and players.

In response to the allegations, the NWSL, US Soccer and FIFA have each opened investigations into the league, while league commissioner Lisa Baird resigned last Friday.

The league resumed play on Wednesday, with the Thorns losing to the Houston Dash 3-2.