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Riverhounds make coaching change

| Saturday, July 12, 2003, 12:00 p.m.

With 12 regular-season games remaining on their 2003 schedule, the Riverhounds released coach Tim Carter on Friday and replaced him with defender Ricardo Iribarren.

Iribarren will stay on the master roster, however, he will not play while he coaches the team beginning tonight at 7:35 against the Richmond Kickers at Bethel Park.

"Yeah, it was a surprise. But it's a good time for me to start a coaching job," Iribarren said. "I was thinking after this season to start a coaching career with a pro team and now with this situation, the franchise has been so nice to me. Now, hopefully, I can give something back to them."

Iribarren is the team's fifth coach in five seasons. Carter went 10-11-5 after taking over the Riverhounds just more than a year ago -- July 8, 2002.

There is one small hitch - Iribarren, a native of Argentina, doesn't have his green card. He hasn't been able to accompany the team on their trips north of the border, and the situation likely won't be resolved in time for the Riverhounds' remaining two games in Canada, July 23 in Montreal and Aug. 17 in Toronto. Vice president of business operations Cliff Gorski said they hadn't yet decided who would lead the team for those two games, but said they are excited to have Iribarren in place.

"He brings to the bench a passion for the game," said Gorski, who would not comment on the details of Carter's release. "He has the respect of our players and a tremendous knowledge of the game. He's played all over the world, so we're hoping the team will respond and move toward the playoffs and a championship in 2003."

It won't be easy. The Riverhounds are 5-7-4 with 19 points in A-League play. Their last game was a 4-2 loss to the Charlotte Eagles, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, last Saturday. They are two points behind the Toronto Lynx in last place in the Northeast Division.

"From my point of view we need to be more opportunistic," Iribarren said. "With the kind of players we have, we can score goals. We just need to get confident and get back in the season and win games."

Iribarren joined the Riverhounds in 2001, logging 4,165 minutes in 53 games. He has three goals and two assists during the regular season, playoffs and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches. In the offseason, Iribarren coaches the Chatham College women's soccer team and an Under-15 girl's team with the Pittsburgh Football Club.

Gorski said he isn't worried about Iribarren's transition from player to coach.

"I really don't think he'll miss a beat," Gorski said. "There will be a transition, but in a lot of instances as players, they talk to each other and organize plays anyway. Now, he'll just be doing it from the bench."

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