The Pittsburgh Riverhounds announced today that they have re-signed a pair of their most reliable players from 2015 — Willie Hunt and Mike Green for the upcoming United Soccer League season.
In addition, in a move to shore up the back line, they have also added defender Isaiah Schafer pending receipt of his international transfer certificate, is the third addition to bring the total roster number to 18 signed players. (You can find the updated list of all signed players on Pittsburgh Soccer Report’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds page)
Hunt made 30 appearances for the Hounds in all competitions last year. He scored three goals including two headers in the season ending 4-2 defeat at New York Red Bulls II in the USL’s Eastern Conference playoffs.
The 28-year-old defender joined the North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies on a short-term contract at the end of the USL season. He was released shortly afterward due to an off-field incident.
“Willie is a good person who put himself into a bad position by associating with the wrong crowd,” said Riverhounds head coach Mark Steffens.
“I’m a strong believer in second chances and we feel obliged as an organization to grant Willie this opportunity to get back on track.
“It’s important for Willie to keep his head down over the coming months and stay focused on playing soccer,” Steffens said.
Versatile midfielder Green, 26, is entering his fifth year with the Hounds after playing collegiately for the University of New Mexico. The Cleveland area native trained with Columbus Crew SC’s Academy during his teens and earned four caps for the United States at Under-20 level.
Green has made 88 regular-season appearances for the Hounds and scored five goals. He filled in at a number of positions during the 2015 season with stints up front and at fullback.
Schafer played collegiately at Mars Hill University in North Carolina before joining the former USL Premier Development League side Real Colorado Foxes.
The 25-year-old from Lakewood, Colorado signed his first professional contract with Phoenix F.C. for the 2013 season.
Schafer most recently played for VPS in Finland’s top tier.
INITIAL THOUGHTS SIGNINGS
You could not find two more reliable players than Green and Hunt on the field the past few years. These are solid signings that bring two veterans back to the fold.
Hunt was a solid defensive player who could play either outside back spot or as a center back. He also showed the ability to score goals in big moments, with his two goals in the box on corner kicks in the playoff against the Red Bulls.
It may seem as a bit of surprise that the Hounds are bringing back Hunt, after his off-field incident in Florida in October. But Mark Steffens has always preached the importance of having high character players on his team and seems to want to provide Hunt with an opportunity to shine on and off the field — and be around what seems to be a very good, core group of guys here in Pittsburgh.
Green has been the Riverhounds version of Josh Harrison. He always seemed to find his way into the line-up — in a variety of roles. He started at forward, attacking midfield and on the back line for the Hounds — and by all indications was a good teammate and fit well with the core group of players that have now been together in Pittsburgh the past three or four seasons.
By adding Schafer, it seems that Steffens has a bunch of options and competition now for the back line. This should be one of the areas that we’ll be watching closely as the preseason evolves. Last season’s primary back four of Okiomah, Arena, Hunt and Flunder (with occasional starts from Dallman, Pasher and Green) — now have at least return some familiar players.