Throughout the course of this coming season, Pittsburgh Soccer Now will take time to sit down with numerous Riverhounds SC players for our One-on-One interview feature. The first edition of 2019 features none other than Kevin Kerr, who is the club’s longest tenured player.
As we chronicled one year ago in one of our first feature stories for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, Kerr is the Hounds venerable warrior who’s found a home in Pittsburgh.
A new season brings new challenges for the 30-year old Scotsman who was born in York, England, and lived much of his youth in Germany.
Kerr’s place in team history is secure.
The midfielder ranks No. 2 in games played (151), No. 1 in minutes (12,527), No. 5 in goals (24), tied No. 2 in assists (24), No. 2 in points (72) and No. 2 in shots (175). Last year, Kerr posted two goals and four assists in 20 games played. It was a strange season for Kerr, as he was sidelined for an extended period at the end of the season with a calf injury sustained in August, keeping him out of action when his club was battling for a spot at the top of the table. It was certainly a tough break for a player who’s been so durable and reliable.
Just a year before, in 2017, he was one of two players to appear in all 32 games for the Hounds and led the team with 2,813 minutes and five assists.
Still, Kerr came back from his injury to make a late game appearance in the last regular season match at New York Red Bulls II, then did the same in the Hounds first-ever home playoff game at Highmark Stadium, entering the match in the dying moments of extra time. While he couldn’t salvage another miracle moment in the playoff game’s final minutes of play, he would get a chance to have a brief moment of exhilaration in front of the beloved Steel Army, as he calmly scored the first goal in what would become a marathon shoot-out which the Hounds would eventually lose to cross-state rivals Bethlehem Steel FC.
Now, Kerr is back for another season, with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, looking to be a part of a Championship club. He remains one of the team leaders, both on and off the field.
“Nobody has worked harder than Kevin this preseason,” Lilley said recently.
On Saturday, I had a chance to catch up with Kerr after the Hounds final preseason match, and as the club was hosting festivities for the season ahead for season ticket holders that announced its first-ever Hall of Fame Class, revealed new kits and more.
KEVIN KERR PHOTO GALLERY
PSR: Have you ever really sat back, and realized how much has happened since you first arrived in Pittsburgh in 2013?
Kerr: I came here as a young lad, but now, I have two kids, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been that much time, seven years. Only really this year, have I really sat down, looked back, and said it’s been a really great ride. Always had a desire to find a home somewhere. I was in Germany for many years. But it’s wonderful here. I feel like I found it. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I’ve loved every minute of it. Now, I feel like an essential part of the community, the club. It’s a great feeling to have that connection. Every year, it’s not just another season, for another club, I feel like I am playing for my team, I’m at home.
PSR: I am sure that you feel there’s some unfinished business, as last season didn’t end the way you wanted to.
We got off to a cracking start. Then I got injured. It was sickening. Finally, I was thinking, we got a good team, and down the stretch of the season, I had to sit and watch.
I just felt like if we could get through the Bethlehem game, I had been back in training about 10 days. I would be able to get my minutes, and help the team.
PSR: It must have felt good though, to score that goal in the shootout in the playoff game?
It sounds crazy, but I had image of me scoring a goal (in playoff game), as something to help keep me going. I would visualize that, and it helped motivate me.
When I came on (late in OT playoff loss to Bethlehem Steel FC), and took the penalty, it felt great. I felt like this is it, we’re going to do this! It was so unfortunate. It was a sad way to go out. Especially to go to seven PK’s. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, if you make first seven PKs, you’re going to come out of it with a win. Now, we just have to work hard to get back in that position again.
PSR: What are your thoughts on this year’s team, as a new season begins in coach Lilley’s second year?
Bringing back so many key players helps in a way, as Bob has lots of options every night. He was able to take the exact players he wanted back to an already successful team. That’s a really good foundation. Plus, adding so many boys that he’s already coached, who have a very good idea of what he demands, and what he’s looking for, really helps. There’s no guarantee for success. But, this is certainly a good start.
It’s been a lot of hard work (this preseason), but he also gives young players a chance to adjust. We have a lot of college boys here too. You never really know what to expect until they have their opportunities. Its up to them to prove it. Every year, there are surprises. We find out more about them — and it’s up to them now to go out there and do it.
The preseason’s over, it’s go time.
PSR: Coach Lilley has always been pretty transparent with his players about what his expectations are, and what he wants from each player. What are his expectations from you for this season.
I have a lot to prove. Not sure he’s happy with how things went last year. Still, unsure of my role this year. Certainly no guarantees. Bob is always honest with me. It’s up to me to earn it. It’s another year, another challenge. Every year there’s turnover, new signings, players coming in to take my place. It’s up to me to earn my place. I always tell the younger boys the same thing. You have to fight for every minute on the field.
That’s what I’ll do.