Paul Dougherty (born May 12, 1966 in Leamington Spa) is an English former professional footballer and football coach who began his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers in England. He then moved to the United States where he became a journeyman player, bouncing through sixteen teams in multiple indoor and outdoor leagues.
English football league
Dougherty began his career when he signed as an apprentice with English First Division
club Wolverhampton Wanderers
at age 16. He made his league debut while still an apprentice during the 1983/84 season
that saw the club lose their top flight status. He made the most appearances of his Wolves career during the following season, which also saw him spend time on loan at Torquay United
during February 1985.
He failed to establish himself as a regular choice though, and played only sporadically over the next two years as the club continued to slide down the divisions under a succession of managers. At the end of the 1986/87 season, he moved to the U.S. to further his career there, where he would remain employed as a player for the next eighteen years.
In 1987, Dougherty signed with the San Diego Sockers
of Major Indoor Soccer League
(MISL), later enrolling at San Diego State University
. Whereas his lack of height hindered his development as an outdoor player, it served him in good stead in the indoor game which prized quickness and agility over size and stamina. Over the next five years, he earned four titles as the Sockers dominated indoor soccer. In 1989, he was named the “Championship Series Unsung Hero” as the Sockers knocked off the Baltimore Blast
for the title. When the Sockers moved to the Continental Indoor Soccer League
(CISL) in 1992, Dougherty moved as well, to the Buffalo Blizzard
of the National Professional Soccer League
(NPSL). At the time, the NPSL was the higher paying of the two indoor leagues. Dougherty remained with the Blizzard for three seasons, from 1992 to 1996. At the completion of the 1995-1996 NPSL season, Dougherty jumped both teams and leagues, moving to the Houston Hotshots
of CISL. That season he was the CISL third leading scorer while the Hotshots went to the championship series, only to fall to the Monterrey La Raza
. Dougherty was named All-CISL. The next season, the Hotshots did not go so far in the playoffs, but Dougherty led the league in scoring, garnering both All CISL and CISL MVP honors. The CISL folded at the end of the 1997, leading Dougherty to move to Major League Soccer
Outdoor minor leagues
By the time Dougherty moved to MLS, he was already a veteran of several outdoor U.S. teams. While he made his name with the indoor game, he also was a consistent performer outdoors. While in San Diego with the Sockers, Dougherty played the 1988 Western Soccer Alliance
(WSA) with the San Diego Nomads
. Then in 1990, he spent the 1990 outdoor season with the Orlando Lions
in the American Professional Soccer League
(APSL) which had been formed that year by the merger of the WSA and east coast American Soccer League
. The next season saw him begin with the Miami Freedom
of the APSL before moving to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers
. While he sat out the 1992 APSL season, instead spending time with two of his indoor clubs, he returned to the APSL in 1993, this time with the Tampa Bay Rowdies
. That season was one of his best as he bagged eight goals in twenty-two games and a spot on the APSL All Star team. Once again, he took time off from the outdoor game to devote himself to indoor soccer. However, in 1995 he signed with the Montreal Impact
of A-League, successor to the APSL. He once again earned All Star honors.
After the CISL folded at the end of 1997, Dougherty began pursuing full time employment in an outdoor league. On February 3, 1998, the MetroStars
of Major League Soccer
(MLS) signed Dougherty. He played sixteen games that season, before the MetroStars traded him to the Tampa Bay Mutiny
for Mike Duhaney
in July. Dougherty began the 1999 season with the Mutiny but was traded on August 2, 1999 with Sam George
and a draft pick to the Chicago Fire
for Ritchie Kotschau
and Manny Lagos
. When Dougherty failed to produce with Chicago, they sent him on loan to the Charleston Battery
of the USL First Division
. In March 2000, Dougherty was able to add another team to his resume, having been a member of it for only a few hours. The Fire released Dougherty on March 15, 2000. He was then selected by the New England Revolution
the next day in the Waiver Draft. The Revs then turned around and traded Dougherty to the Colorado Rapids
in exchange for a fifth round pick in the upcoming Super Draft.
Dougherty spent the 2000 season with the Rapids, but failed to score in twenty-four games and on October 31, 2000 he announced his retirement.
Dougherty didn’t stay retired for long. Kai Haaskivi
, a former indoor team mate of Dougherty’s, was coaching the Pittsburgh Riverhounds
of the USL A-League. The Riverhounds needed some added offensive production heading into the post season as well as for upcoming Open Cup
games. Dougherty signed with the Riverhounds on July 20, 2001.
Haaskivi’s gamble paid off as Dougherty provided instant offense, including a goal in the Open Cup quarterfinal match against his old team, the Chicago Fire. At the end of the season the Riverhounds released Dougherty and he moved back to San Diego to pursue a coaching career. However, Dougherty was unable to call it quits to playing and on February 5, 2004, he rejoined the San Diego Sockers
for one last indoor season.
Unfortunately, the magic was gone and the Sockers folded midway through the season.
When the Riverhounds released Dougherty, he returned to San Diego where he became an assistant coach with the San Diego Flash
of the USL A League. In 2002, he left the Flash and joined the staff of the La Jolla Nomads Soccer Club.
This is significant in that Dougherty had begun his U.S. outdoor career fourteen years earlier with the Nomads senior team, the San Diego Nomads
. In 2004, he took the Nomads U-15 team to the U.S. national championship only to have his boys fall, 5-4, to the Greater Boston Bolts. In addition to coaching with the Nomads, he beame an assistant coach with the UC San Diego
men’s team as well as the Manchester Soccer Club and Rancho Santa Fe Attack.