(Rochester, NY)… The Rochester Rhinos announced that former Rhinos player Darren Tilley has been named the head coach of the United Soccer Leagues First Division club. Tilley becomes the third coach in the 13-year history of the organization.
“It was an honor and a thrill to play for the Rhinos. It is now a privilege to be given the opportunity to coach this great club,” said Tilley, who signed a two-year deal with his former team. The Rhinos are the biggest club in the USL and it’s a very special club with a storied history. The challenge is there once again to build (it into a winner). My aim is to build on that tradition and reestablish the Rhinos as a winning franchise.”
Tilley added, “I am confident that the players and devoted supporters can identify with me from my abilities when I was a player, thereby allowing me the chance to establish and cultivate the attitude that will be necessary to once again be WINNERS.”
“As we take this club into a new era and endeavor to build a successful future, we’re thrilled to announce a connection with the past,” said Matthew Ford, Executive Vice President for the Rochester Rhinos. “Darren brings not just a connection to the past, but he has great energy and a big appetite for future success. His approach to how the game should be played will no doubt benefit the club as we move forward and for so many reasons, he is the right person and the right coach to take us forward.”
Tilley leads his club into the 2008 season on Friday, May 2nd at 7:30 p.m. in Charleston, SC, as they take on the two-time A-League champion Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium. Rochester opens its 2008 home slate at PAETEC Park on Saturday, May 17th against Charleston at 7:35 p.m.
Tilley returns to the Rhinos, where he played from 1998 to 2000. He was one of the catalysts in helping the franchise win an A-League title (1998) and a U.S. Open Cup championship (1999). During his career in Rochester, he played in 51 regular season matches and recorded 26 goals and 12 assists for 64 points.
His best season was during the team’s magical run in 1998, when the Rhinos finished the season with a 24-4-0 record and captured their first league championship. That season, Tilley was named to the All A-League Team as he finished second in league scoring with 21 goals and seven assists in 24 games. More importantly, he was named the MVP of the A-League Championship Game as the striker connected three times to lead the Rhinos to a 3-1 win over Minnesota. He set an A-League record with 18 postseason points (7+4).
Despite playing only two full seasons with the Rhinos, his name appears numerous times in the franchise’s record book. In Rhinos history, Tilley still ranks fifth in goals (26), fifth in points (64) and is tied for seventh in assists (12). In postseason history, he is first all-time in goals (10), assists (6) and points (26). If that wasn’t enough, Tilley also remains third in points (7) and tied for third in goals (3) in Rhinos’ U.S. Open Cup history.
After his stint in Rochester, Tilley joined the Vancouver 86ers/Whitecaps organization for the 2000 and 2001 seasons. In 2000, he was team’s MVP and top scorer and in 2001he led the team in playoff scoring.
Prior to playing in Rochester, Tilley played both internationally and in North America. In 1997, he spent the season with the Toronto Lynx, where he earned Second Team A-League All-Star honors. He also represented the club at the 1997 A-League All-Star Game. He recorded 18 points (6+4) in 18 games before being traded to Montreal. He ended the ’97 campaign ninth in the league in scoring with 32 points (13+6).
Before arriving in North America, the native of Taunton, England, spent time playing in England, China, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Canada and spanned the years of 1983 to 1996. He played in the Chinese Pro League and played for Foshan Fosti FC in 1996 and was named the team MVP. In 1995 he played for the Frankwell Football Club in the Hong Kong First Division and led the team in scoring. In 1994, Tilley made history becoming the first European to play and score in a Chinese Professional League match in 1994 with Guangdong Hongyuan Football Club. Earlier that year, he played for the Happy Valley Football Club in the Hong Kong First Division and led the team in scoring. In his travels, he also had a one-month trial with ADO Den Haag Football Club in 1993. Tilley also played in the English Barclays League Division 3 from 1991 to 1993 for York City. His other stops included Kitchener of the Canadian Soccer League (1991), Bath City of the English GM Vauxhall Conference (1986-88) and the Bristol Rovers of the English Second Division (1983-84).
Since retiring from professional soccer in 2003, Tilley has also worked as a player/coach and an instructor in various capacities. He was a player/coach Mississauga of the Canadian Professional Soccer League (2002-03) and appeared in amateur games with the Cambridge Supersonics in 2005 (Ontario Soccer League). He has also worked as the Director of the North Mississauga Soccer Club from 2001 to 2007. In 2001, he became a staff instructor with the Ontario Soccer Association, a position he still holds. Further, he still works as the technical director for Guelph (Ontario) Soccer and as a staff instructor with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He also holds coaching licenses from the English Football Association, United States Soccer Federation and the Canadian Soccer Association.