Early last week, when reaching out to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC head coach Bob Lilley said he was already working on preparations for the 2019 campaign.
He wasn’t kidding.
On Tuesday, the Riverhounds SC announced initial roster plans ahead of the 2019 season.
The team has elected to pick up the options of the following players: Tobi Adewole, Neco Brett, Mouhamed Dabo, Jordan Dover, Kenardo Forbes, Christiano François, Noah Franke, Joe Greenspan, Kevin Kerr, Kyle Morton and Thomas Vancaeyezeele.
“The 2018 campaign was a season of progress here in Pittsburgh, and the club has even bigger aspirations looking ahead to 2019,” Lilley said through team release on Tuesday. “Although there were some very difficult decisions, we feel confident this core of players moving forward gives us a strong foundation for the 2019 roster.”
Among the ‘difficult decisions’ players who apparently didn’t have second year contract options exercised include: Kay Banjo, Dennis Chin, Ben Fitzpatrick, Bakie Goodman, Joe Holland, Nathan Ingham, Ray Lee, Andrew Lubahn, Dan Lynd, Romeo Parkes, Todd Pratzner, Hugh Roberts and Ben Zemanski.
Returning to the club are two USL All-League selections. Greenspan, named All-League First Team, helped anchor a back line that recorded a single-season team-record 17 clean sheets. In addition, Forbes, who was named All-League Second Team, will come back to Pittsburgh after leading the club in assists (eight) in 2018. Forbes will also be playing indoor soccer again this winter, with Utica City FC.
On the offensive end, Brett will return to the Hounds fresh off a 37-point campaign, which ranks as the third-highest scoring season in club history. The Robert Morris University product will be joined up top by François, who finished third on the squad with 13 points in 2018.
Other players of note include the return of the longest-tenured Hound, Kerr, who will enter his seventh straight season with the club. The team also gets its 2018 minutes leader back, as Vancaeyezeele showcased his versatility in both the midfield and back line while putting together a dynamic rookie campaign.
With these returners, the Hounds currently have 11 players under contract.
Pittsburgh Soccer Now will be sitting down with Lilley, and later this week will be getting more from the coach on how he plans to approach the coming months building up the rest of the team’s 2019 roster.
Roster breakdown for 2019 season
Forwards (2): Neco Brett, Christiano François
Midfielders (4): Mouhamed Dabo, Kenardo Forbes, Noah Franke, Kevin Kerr
Defenders (4): Tobi Adewole, Jordan Dover, Joe Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele
Goalkeepers (1): Kyle Morton