US SoccerUS Soccer

Sundhage Adds Hege Riise to U.S. WNT Coaching Staff

CHICAGO (February 27, 2009) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage has added former Norwegian star Hege Riise to her coaching staff. The central midfielder was considered one of the best in the world at her position during her 14 years playing for her country.

Riise joins a coaching staff that also includes UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis, Penn State head coach Erica Walsh and Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon, who trains the USA’s goalkeepers. All three coaches were on Sundhage’s staff for the 2008 Olympics.

The long-time captain for Norway, Riise made her international debut in 1990 and played in four Women’s World Cup tournaments (1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003), helping Norway to the title in 1995 as well as an Olympic gold medal in 2000. She also played in the 1996 Olympic Games.

Riise scored the first goal in Norway’s 2-0 victory over Germany in the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player.

She comes to U.S. Soccer after coaching several seasons with Team Strommen in the Norway First Division, as well as with the Norwegian U-19 Women’s National Team. She was on Norway’s staff as an assistant coach for the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile last fall.

“With the type of experiences she’s had in soccer, and with the kind of player she was with a great ability to read the game, she will help us in both defending and attacking,” said Sundhage. “One of her strengths as a player was finding different ways to attack and her knowledge will help us become more unpredictable. She will teach me and the team a lot.”

Riise, 39, is no stranger to America, having played three seasons for the Carolina Courage in the WUSA, earning team MVP honors in 2001 and 2002 seasons and leading the Courage to the league championship in 2002. In 2003, she was named the best-ever Norwegian female player by the Norwegian Football Association.

Riise retired from international soccer in 2004, played two more season of club soccer before retiring in 2006. She then took up the head coaching position with Strommen, which based in her hometown of Lillestrom, just 20 minutes outside of Oslo.

Riise has joined the U.S. team in Portugal at the Algarve Cup, which is being held from March 4-11, where the Americans will play Norway in its third group match. Riise will relocate to the United States after the Algarve Cup, and along with the other U.S. assistants, will assist Sundhage in scouting during the upcoming WPS season.