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Hounds preseason kicks off Monday with 14 players on trial

Former Fox Chapel, Riverhounds Development Academy and Century United standout Brennan Ireland is one of 13 players on trial with the Riverhounds this week (photo PSU athletics)

The wait is over.

The twentieth campaign for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC officially gets started on Monday.

Riverhounds SC return 13 signed players, and another 14 hopefuls join the club on trial to kick off the first week of preseason training sessions, all to be held at Highmark Stadium.

Hounds coach Bob Lilley is not only determined to get his club back to the playoffs, but is aspiring to take the club to greater heights.

He’ll start by working methodically through the early part of the preseason to add pieces to the Hounds roster and build chemistry among those key returning pieces.

“I don’t look at a roster as ‘well I got my 16 or 18 solid pieces and these six are projects.’ I look at a roster, I want to feel that every player I sign will be able to contribute in some way.”

There’s lots of work to do, and it begins on Monday.

“We had a meeting on Saturday,” Kevin Kerr, who will be returning for his seventh season with the club. said. “It’s great to see so many of the boys back from last year. It’s great to have best players back from last year. Now, we can build off what we started.”

As Mark Goodman pointed out in his recent Pittsburgh Soccer Now article, this will be the beginning of the ‘wild’ period, where Lilley will be bringing in many players on a trial basis, most likely with a new crop each week. With 13 players currently signed to the roster, the Hounds are still looking to fill another dozen or so spots.

Riverhounds SC Roster (as of 2/4/2019):

  • Forwards (2): Neco Brett, Steevan Dos Santos
  • Midfielders (6): Mouhamed Dabo, Kenardo Forbes, Noah Franke, Kevin Kerr, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Anthony Velarde
  • Defenders (4): Tobi Adewole, Jordan Dover, Joe Greenspan, Ryan James
  • Goalkeepers (1): Kyle Morton

While the midfield looks solid with six players already penciled into spots on the roster, it appears that Lilley’s focus early in the preseason is to get a look at more forwards, outside and center backs — and he’s also brought in a goalkeeper among the trialists.  The competition will be fierce and there are a lot of quality players that will be battling for spots on the roster.

On Monday, they get started.

By Friday, we’ll get our first look as they begin the preseason scrimmage schedule with a friendly against Cleveland State, then another against Gannon on Sunday. Both matches will be at Highmark Stadium.

Week one preseason trialists:

Here’s each player on trial, and a little more information that you might find interesting.

Tommy Buono – Forward, 6-1, 175, Winchester, Va. (Northern Virginia United FC)

Buono’s followed a very interesting path, opting to move to Spain after graduating from high school.  Buono attended Marbella United FC, a full-time soccer academy located in Marbella, Spain, where he had several trials and training experiences with professional teams all around Europe including Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Holland, and France. After returning to the States last Spring, he started his own Technical Training School.

Tam Dimairo – Outside back, 5-7, 145, Wellington, New Zealand (U of Charleston WV)

A former teammate of Thomas Vancaeyezeele, is also a foreign product who played at University of Charleston. Like his former teammate at Charleston, Dimairo is versatile, and can play as the 2 or 3 and even as a 6. He has played for New Zealand’s U20 team, and last summer with the Michigan Bucks of USL League Two (formerly PDL). Dimariro and Vancaeyezeele were the leaders and most talented players from Charleston’s NCAA DII 2017 National Championship squad. Once interesting note, the Hounds have signed three players in the past six years that played for Charleston (Rob Vincent, Vancaeyezeele and Conor Branson).

Eddy Enowbi – Forward, 5-10, 175, Silver Spring, Md. (East Stroudsburg University)

Another former NCAA DII standout, Enowbi Earned had a breakout season with East Stroudsburg in 2017 after transferring from Keystone. At ESU he earned first team All-PSAC and first team United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region accolades, scoring 18 goals and seven assists in two full seasons. Last year, Enowbi played with Lehigh Valley United (League Two formerly PDL).

Mark Forrest – Forward, 6-3, Douglassville, Pa. (Lehigh University)

The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year at Lehigh was selected 77th overall in the MLS SuperDraft in January by Chicago Fire. He’s currently on trial with the Hounds. His 41 career goals and 103 points rank second all-time in Lehigh and Patriot League history.

Ryan Gallagher – Defender, 6-0, 170, Pine Bush, N.Y. (Penn State University)

Played and started in all 17 matches for the Nittany Lions on the back line. Totaled a team-high 1,403 minutes while. Scored the lone goal in the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten Tournament game at Michigan on Nov. 3 to earn a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament team

Nadeer Ghantous – Defender, 6-3, 185, Hifa, Israel (Cal Poly Pomona)

Yet another DII player, and one that actually played at Highmark Stadium in December, Ghantous must have made an impression on Hounds coach Bob Lilley who was scouting those games in person. Ghantous anchored the Cal-Poly back line, and is the type of young, big, strong center back that Lilley is looking for to step in to provide depth for the Hounds back line.

David Greczek – Goalkeeper, 6-2, 185, Farfield, N.J. (Swope Park Rangers)

Other than Kyle Morton, Greczek is the only other goalkeeper in the first week of camp with the Hounds, which mean’s he’ll probably get the first chance to get a good look, and make a claim for a roster spot. Lilley’s been known to carry three keepers. The Fairfield, New Jersey native knows something about earning roster spots — as he was a walk-on at Rutgers, where he played collegiately. He was drafted by Sporting KC, and made three appearances in 2017 for its USL runner up squad, Swope Park Rangers in 2017.  Last season, he played with FC Motown, an NPSL club based in New Jersey.

Brennan Ireland – Outside back, 5-10, 170, Annapolis, Md. (Penn State University)

The lone player on trial with true local connection. Ireland is a former Riverhounds Development Academy, Century United and Fox Chapel High School standout.  Ireland eventually moved to Maryland during his later high school years to train with DC United Academy where he eventually had prominent roles on the U-16, U-18 and U-23 teams. Ireland played four years at Penn State, where he emerged as a solid player on the back line — playing in every game and more than 2,000 minutes in his junior and senior campaigns.

Devyn Jambga – Forward, 5-11, 160, St. Louis, Mo. (Portland Timbers 2)

Jambga played collegiately at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville between 2013 and 2017, including a redshirted season in 2013. Jambga tallied 15 goals and 6 assists in 73 appearances for the Cougars — and during that time he also played with the PDL club Des Moines Menace.

Kosti Moni – Midfielder, 6-0, 170, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Western Michigan University)

Completed his college career at Western Michigan after two years at Cal-Santa Barbara. Also played a key role with Lansing United (League Two/PDL) in 2018. Kosti’s a versatile attacking threat, technically savvy and good in tight spaces, who has ability to score from distance.

Hakan Redzep – Midfielder, 5-10, NL Macedonia (Anagennisi Deryneia)

An interesting break in the trend in the trial list that includes mostly recent, mostly American college players, Redzep is a central midfielder from Macedonia, who also has Danish roots. Internationally, he made eight appearances for the Danish U-18 squad and later one with Macedonia’s U21. He played professionally in Denmark from 2012-18, until a stint with Anagenisi Deryneia in Macedonia in late 2018.

Jordan Skelton – Defender, 6-4, Newcastle, England (Lander University)

Another big center back, Skelton made his bones in the U.S. in the DII college ranks as well for Lander University in South Carolina, where he stood out. Despite going undrafted by MLS, has been considered one of the top center back prospects coming out of the college this season.

Caleb Smith – Midfielder, 5-9, 147, Arlington, Texas (SMU)

A four-year player at SMU, mostly as a defensive midfielder and defender, Smith came to college as a highly touted player according to Top Drawer, and was a member of the USA U17 National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida.

Oliver White – Forward / Midfielder, 6-0, Belmont, MA (Kingston FC)

Oliver is a number nine who is good in front of goal. He is coming off a stint with Kingston City FC (Australia) where he was the feature goal scorer for the side. Oliver played collegiately at Harvard University is looking to land a stint playing professionally back here in the States.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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