The Riverhounds continue to look to build a winner for this coming season — signing former Portland Timbers midfielder Ben Zemanski to a one-year deal with a club option for the 2019 season, pending USL and USSF approval.
Registering more than 130 career appearances in Major League Soccer, Zemanski, 29, and native of Akron, OH, returns closer to home after spending the past five seasons in the Pacific Northwest.
It appears that Zamanski will make a bid to see playing time as a holding midfielder, but head coach Bob Lilley will also be counting on his experience and versatility.
“Ben will bring quality as well as experience to our team,” Lilley said. “His well-rounded skill set will enable us to employ him effectively in many different ways.”
Lilley has been known to — and said he will utilize various tactical formations this season, as they’ve been toying with both one and two holding mids at various times this preseason.
Currently the only other signed players that have played in the holding mid spots this preseason have been Mouhamad Dabo and Jordan Dover. The latter is also an outside back. Former All-USL standout Kenardo Forbes (1) can play in this position, but he’s still completing his Indoor season with Syracuse, and may not rejoin the team for another couple weeks.
From 2013-17, Zemanski suited up for the Timbers and logged 61 appearances primarily at the holding midfield position.
Zemanski’s peak performance in MLS and his highest-scoring season was in 2013, accounting for one goal and two assists in 25 games played – additionally the club’s first-ever playoff appearance.
Although missing the 2015 season due to injury, Zemanski was a member of the MLS Cup-winning squad and had a considerable role in the City of Roses’ side’s overall rise to prominence in league play.
This past season saw Zemanski split time with the Timbers and their USL reserve team, Timbers 2, making 10 appearances in total. The Timbers opted not to re-sign Zemanski in the off season.
Zemanski began his MLS career with Chivas USA, where he spent three seasons from 2010-12. The midfielder appeared in at least 22 games each year, finishing his Chivas USA career with 72 games played (58 starts), two goals and seven assists.
Across all eight of his MLS seasons, Zemanski has 133 games played (89 starts), three goals and 11 assists.
Prior to being selected with the No. 47 overall pick in the third round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by Chivas USA, Zemanski played collegiately at the University of Akron from 2006-09.
Under head coach Caleb Porter, who would go on to coach Zemanski in Portland from 2013-17, he made 86 appearances and racked up numerous accolades, including All-Mid American Conference honors and was an instrumental piece in the Zips’ runner-up finish at the 2009 NCAA Championship.
With the addition of Zemanski, the Hounds now have 19 players officially under contract.
Currently unbeaten in exhibition play, Riverhounds SC continues their preseason action against Penn FC on Saturday, March 10 at Highmark Stadium. For more information, visit Riverhounds.com.
Roster breakdown for 2018 season
Forwards (4): Kay Banjo, Neco Brett, Dennis Chin, Romeo Parkes
Midfielders (8): Mouhamed Dabo, Ben Fitzpatrick, Bakie Goodman, Kenardo Forbes, Joe Holland, Christiano François, Kevin Kerr, Ben Zemanski
Defenders (4): Tobi Adewole, Jordan Dover, Joe Greenspan, Raymond Lee
Goalkeepers (3): Mike Kirk, Dan Lynd, Kyle Morton
(1.) Curious about when Forbes will join the Hounds?
The Syracuse Silver Knights completed the regular season this past weekend, and are now heading into the first round of the playoffs when they host Baltimore on Thursday, March 8, then the return match of the Divisional Championship home-and-home series in Syracuse is on Sunday, March 11.
If the Silver Knights win, they will be competing in the The Conference Finals and then ultimately in the Ron Newman Cup Championship — each decided in a one-game, winner-take-all format.