Pittsburgh, Pa. — Tobi Adewole is a fairly simple guy.
When he’s not at home catching up on his favorite Netflix shows or playing FIFA online with his siblings, Adewole is working hard to perfect his craft. In his third season with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Adewole scored the Hounds first goal of the 2019 season against the Swope Park Rangers. For a minute, Adewole didn’t even realize he scored.
“It was an interesting moment,” Adewole said. “When I scored, it didn’t hit me yet until a couple seconds later. It took me sometime to celebrate and stuff. It was a lovely feeling. I hope to score more goals and give the Hounds supporters more celebrations throughout the year. It was a good experience getting a goal in such a nice stadium [Children’s Mercy Park].”
The goal is Adewole’s second of his Riverhounds career. In three seasons, Adewole has featured in 42 matches. This season, he has essentially solidified his starting spot on the backline. No matter what the formation — head coach Bob Lilley elected to try a five-man backline against the Bethlehem Steel FC two weekends ago — Adewole can be counted on for clearances and helping out his goalkeepers.
He’s formed good chemistry with his fellow defenders, too.
Playing together for the second-straight season, Adewole said his chemistry with Joe Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele and Jordan Dover has been great. The only new addition is Ryan James, who joined the team from Nashville SC.
“We’ve had that good chemistry since last year,” Adewole said. “We’re still figuring out some pieces here and there. The backline chemistry is well and we’re only going to grow throughout the season.”
if you know, you know 🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/VJwMc2JmY3
— Tobiloba Adewole (@TobiAdewole95) March 26, 2019
Growing into a leadership role
The defense isn’t the only thing growing for the Riverhounds SC.
Instead, Adewole is taking a leadership role. In his third season with the Hounds, he’s seen the leadership of Kevin Kerr, Kenardo Forbes and Greenspan help his career and help him develop in Pittsburgh. Now, his goal is to help the new players and younger rookies get accustomed to being in a new city, on a new team and learning expectations.
“The leadership that I saw when I was a rookie, or even last year, is making sure the guys are comfortable on and off the field,” Adewole explained. “They need to understand everything that Bob wants. They need to make sure their heads are in the right space, before and after practice. You walk in there and it’s important to focus on the next game. Practice how you play and leave it out on the field every time you get the chance. It’s a motivational role — and even a behind-the-scenes role.”
That’s how Adewole operates on the pitch, too. He’s not a flashy player, but will press the attack if he sees an opportunity. However, his job is to defend first and it’s a job that he continues to practice to get better at. Adewole is also not afraid to aim high for team goals.
“Obviously, we like to take every game step-by-step,” Adewole said. “We don’t want to look too far into the future. Playoffs is a goal for us. Obviously, winning the league is the top goal. But, first and foremost, we need to make playoffs and then we’ll go from there.”
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) March 23, 2019
A new year, new challenges
The road to get to the playoffs is long.
Pittsburgh just started their season with four matches under their belt. It hasn’t been the most pleasant start for Lilley and the Hounds, racking up one loss and two draws in the opening three matches. However, this past Saturday, Pittsburgh earned their first win of the season against Louisville City FC.
The Hounds have endured four consecutive matches on the road due to new turf being installed at Highmark Stadium. Adewole said that winning the home opener against Hartford Athletic is a must to continue momentum.
“We want to come in and win the game, which we’ve been failing to do these past three games,” Adewole said, before the Hounds took on Louisville. “We want to have a strong performance, which is always a goal for us. As a team, we need to come out with these three points and make that part of our culture, make it every game for us.”
Meanwhile, Adewole is excited for the challenge of playing a new expansion club. He’s also looking forward to reuniting with his former Riverhounds teammate last year, Raymond Lee.
“Some people may have their notions on them, but we respect them like we respect every team,” Adewole said. “This is a strong league and every team is a good team. We need to come in with the same intensity every game. It’ll also be good to see guys like Ray.”
However, what excites Adewole the most about the home opener is seeing the Riverhounds fans again. He’s looking forward to meeting new fans, seeing familiar faces and feeding off the energy the Steel Army brings.
“Words can’t express how excited I am,” Adewole said. “It’s been very long, these last couple months we’ve been practicing in Coraopolis. So it’s good to get on our feet at home and get the ball running. I’m excited to see all the new fans how they open us up.”
Adewole said that he’s happy to have fans return for another season and hopes they “enjoy the ride.”
“It’s going to be a season to remember,” Adewole said.
Getting the ball rolling! Big ups the Team! Solid Win, Solid shutout, Solid performance! We go up!!! #UNLEASH
— Tobiloba Adewole (@TobiAdewole95) April 7, 2019
PHOTO: Tobi Adewole is enjoying his third season with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and looking to be more of a leader on the team. Photo courtesy of Rachael McKriger/Pittsburgh Soccer Now.