The Pittsburgh Riverhounds added another promising young player to its roster today.
English defensive midfielder Conor Branson has officially been added to the team’s roster for the 2016 United Soccer League season.
Branson follows his countryman Rob Vincent in signing his first professional contract with the Riverhounds after playing collegiately at the University of Charleston in West Virginia.
Branson was an instrumental part of the Golden Eagles NCAA Division II national semifinal run last year.
Branson led Charleston’s defense to a league-best 11 shutouts and weighed in with four goals and two assists from his holding midfield role.
Branson’s assured displays earned him the Mountain East Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 for the second straight season.
The Yorkshireman grew up playing in the academy system of local club Barnsley F.C. He captained the Nike Football Academy team based at England’s National Football Centre in Burton upon Trent during the 2011-2012 season.
Branson has also enjoyed training stints with the Hounds’ Major League Soccer affiliate Columbus Crew SC and D.C. United.
Branson featured in the Hounds’ four preseason games against collegiate opponents and earned his first start against Akron on March 18.
There is still a pair of players that have trained with the Hounds in the preseason (17 year-old Canadian forward DuWayne Ewart and former Columbus Crew 2015 SuperDraft 1st Round pick defender Sergio Campbell) who have not been added to the team’s roster.
For now, the following 23 players are now officially signed and registered with the team for the 2016 season.
GK (3): Brenden Alfery, Hunter Gilstrap, Mauricio Vargas
DEF (5): Willie Hunt, Jordan Murrell, Caleb Postlewait, Isaiah Schafer, Karsten Smith
MID (10): James Bissue, Conor Branson, Mike Green,Alex Harlley, Marshall Hollingsworth*, Kevin Kerr, Nick Kolarac, Lebo Moloto, Stephen Okai, Ben Swanson*
FWD (5): Zak Boggs, Ryan Dodson, Corey Hertzog, Romeo Parkes, Drew Russell
*On loan from Columbus Crew SC
Pittsburgh Soccer Report will be providing a three-part Riverhounds season preview beginning later Wednesday with a closer look, position-by-position at the roster, and final two features on Thursday (news from Media Day, look at Hounds schedule and games of note) and Friday (Keys to Successful Season).