Pittsburgh Riverhounds Roster Build: A First Look

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Pittsburgh Riverhounds Roster Build

There’s are so many new and exciting things about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this year. There are new kits, a new crest, new stands, and a new TV deal for 2018.

But listen, guys. A beautiful crest can’t kick a soccer ball, and the kits aren’t going to score goals without players in them, let alone win the USL Cup. The Riverhounds are in the middle of the process of building out the roster. Taking a look at the somewhat up-to-date USL trade tracker page, we can see that the Riverhounds are league-average at filling out their club. The Hounds have 14 players officially listed to the club: more than some, less than others. FC Cincinnati has 25 rostered players, and Phoenix Rising FC has 23. On the other hand, many of the “Two” teams, like LA Galaxy II and Portland Timbers 2, couldn’t conduct a game of ‘5 v 2’ with officially signed players right now, as they wait for their MLS squads to set their rosters and sign their contracts.

It’s still early, but I thought it might be worth a first pass at the Riverhounds roster to see what we’ve got, and what we might be looking for. I also reached out to a couple soccering friends for their two cents on some of the Hounds trialists. This is merely a commentary and the addition of some intel that I was able to get my hands on. The original reporting that helped me to formulate this article is from John Krysinsky and PittsburghSoccerReport.com, so make sure you go and read that article if you haven’t already.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds Roster Build: A First Look

The Current Roster

Returnees

Chevaughn Walsh (F)

Kay Banjo (F)

Romeo Parkes (F)

Kevin Kerr (M)

Ben Fitzpatrick(M)

Tobi Adewole (D)

At present, just six players are returning to the Riverhounds for 2018 from the previous year’s iteration, as the team decided to blow up the underperforming squad from last year in an attempt to improve. The holdovers are three frequent starters (Parkes, Kerr, and Banjo) and three guys that were regularly in rotation as squad players (Walsh, Fitzpatrick, and Adewole). Kerr led the team in minutes in 2017 with 2,813 and clearly was seen as an integral piece for both stability and continuity going into this season. Chevaugh Walsh and Tobi Adewole are both 22 years old, Ben Fitzpatrick is 23, and Kay Banjo is 25, so the team clearly thinks their skills and potential hold promise for the future. I’m not sure I understand the re-signing of Parkes: at 27 years old, he’s not exactly ‘full of potential’ and with only three goals in 19 games, he didn’t light up the scoreboard, either. A few weeks ago, the guys on the MonGoals podcast said essentially the same thing, so at least we’re united in our confusion.

Pittchester Rhinohounds

Kenardo Forbes (M)

Christiano Francois (M)

Raymond Lee (D)

Jordan Dover (D)

Dan Lynd (GK)

Kyle Morton (GK)

New head coach Bob Lilley brought more than a few of his favored players from the Rochester Rhinos after they announced they would spend the 2018 USL season on hiatus. With the Rhinos finishing fourth in the USL Eastern Conference in 2017, nine spots above the Riverhounds, this is a reasonable and prudent decision. Forbes, the 29-year-old Jamaican midfielder, led the Rhinos in key passes with 54 and was tied for first in assists with six while playing 2,619 minutes. He’ll bring leadership and distribution to his new club. Dan Lynd was the Rhinos backup keeper, and he had three clean sheets in 10 matches.

Transfer Additions

Dennis Chin (F)

Joe Greenspan (D)

Mike Kirk (GK)

Chin, who signed with the club on Friday, is a proven veteran goalscorer. He’s coming to a team that was 12th out of 15 teams in USL’s Eastern Conference in goals scored. He comes over after last playing with Israeli second division side Ironi Nesher in 2016-17.  Whether the 30-year-old Jamaican can lift the Hounds offense out of its less-than-stellar form last year is a good question. Greenspan is the player that, as a recent transplant from Colorado, I’m quite familiar with. In fact, I hazard to say that I will be the only person in Pittsburgh to have seen ‘Ensign Joe’ score a goal for an MLS team – I was at his 2015 debut for the Colorado Rapids in the US Open Cup against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks in which Greenspan headed home a goal in a 4-1 romp. He’s tall and great at clearing balls, and he’s played as a reserve with MLS clubs for parts of three seasons, so the talent and the physicality are good. He should be a strong anchor in defense for the Hounds. Based on experience, I’d assume that Lynd is the frontrunner to start in goal on opening day for Pittsburgh, while Kirk and Morton, who have yet to log a minute in goal at the USL level, will be competing through the month of March for the backup spot.

Trialists

Neco Brett (F)

Matt Danilack (F)

Guillermo Delgado (F)

Nijee Cooper (M/D)

Mouhamed Dabo (M)

Bakie Goodman (M)

Colin Stripling (M)

Joseph Holland (M)

Kenroy Howell (M)

Ritchie Duffie (D)

Dom Oduro (M/D)

Todd Pratzner (D)

Hugh Roberts (D)

Nick Groenewold (D)

Hounds fans will be familiar with Kenroy Howell and Ritchie Duffy, as they were with the team in 2017. Neither saw frequent use though. Matt Danilack is a well-regarded forward/midfielder for Dartmouth, where he led the team in goals in 2017 with six. TopDrawerSoccer.com had him at #67 in their 100 Best College Soccer Players last year, and many of the players above and below him were selected in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.

Joe Holland was the 10th overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, taken by Houston Dynamo. He had some garbage time minutes in five matches for them and was released in the off-season. He’s from the UK and the fact that he takes up an international slot may have caused the Dynamo to cut bait on him. He’s familiar with USL, as he played 13 matches for Rio Grande Valley on loan. Dom Oduro was also a 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick, taken in the second round by the Seattle Sounders. He was cut during training camp, however. The Ghanaian right back is extremely well traveled despite being just 23 years old, having played with Manchester City, Aarhus (Denmark), Royal Excel Mouscron (Belgium), IK Frej (Sweden), Nordsjaellen (Denmark), and finally USL PDL side FC Golden State Force.

I was able to profile the final two players in this report by reaching out to a network of friends that were kind enough to share their thoughts with me. The first is Bakie Goodman, who joined DCFC after his college career at Georgetown and was drafted but unsigned by the Seattle Sounders. My friend, former FC Denver Assistant Coach Tyler Whitesides, relocated to Detroit last year and is a loyal supporter of Detroit City FC. He shared these thoughts with me about Goodman:

“He is a crafty attacking mid. To me, he is best when he has someone a bit more structure alongside him in the midfield. He has quick feet and is smart on the ball. Low center of gravity allows him to turn and switch direction quickly. Good passer, but plays a bit safe. He was a great addition to our team. He was clearly a class above at times, but is still learning.”

Last but not least is Mouhamed Dabo. I reached out to MLS commentator and former professional Bobby Warshaw, who played alongside Dabo last year when the two were with the Harrisburg City Islanders. Bobby told me:

“I really liked Dabo as a player and a person. I thought he was an excellent player, particularly for USL. Possession-minded, wants to play simple and short, works hard all the time, very competitive both in training and games. (His position is) as a defensive midfielder. I would play him more box-to-box. He could also play anywhere in the back four. He would need training at it, and his size would scare coaches, but he’s excellent at reading the game, sniffing out trouble, and 1v1 defending.”

With the opening of the USL regular season still over a month away, there will certainly be a number of additions and changes to the roster. You’ll see another roster update for the Hounds here at LWOS in a few weeks. But there’s no doubt that there are some exciting pieces to the puzzle in camp with the Riverhounds right now. We’ll soon see how they fit together to make this 2018 Pittsburgh team.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Chevy Walsh is not on the team.
    he had a contract for 2018 but Lilley dropped him from the team.
    Go to USL twitter
    The USL ruled in Chevy’s favor today on the contract dispute.

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