With a mix of current college players, almost entirely from the Pittsburgh area and some recent professionals, the Pittsburgh Hotspurs have quickly assembled its roster for its first-ever season in the National Premier Soccer League.
They won’t have to wait any longer to into real, live game action. The Hotspurs will play its inaugural game on Saturday against the NPSL Midwest Region East Conference reigning champions, Erie Commodores, on Saturday at Edinboro University (7 p.m. kickoff).
MOSTLY HOMEGROWN ROSTER COMES TOGETHER
The Hotspurs initially announced the signing of two former Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC players, Nick Kolarac and Keasel Broome, but have since built a roster that includes numerous young players from the Pittsburgh area.
This is a group that’s young, hungry and almost entirely homegrown.
Among the crop of younger Greater Pittsburgh-area talent added to the squad includes former Norwin High School and Riverhounds Development Academy product Anthony Harding.
Harding, who is from North Huntingdon, suffered a broken foot in his first game of his senior year at Norwin and took a redshirt in his freshmen year at the University of Pittsburgh.
It’s been a tough road for Harding to come back from injury, but he’s pushed forward, persevered, and is now excited about this opportunity that lies ahead for him with the Spurs. For Harding, it’s a chance continue playing during the off season at the high level possible — against competition in U.S. Soccer’s Fourth Division — and for another hometown club where he’s training with a lot of guys he grew up playing with and against.
“There are a bunch of us that have been together before, and we all know each other,” Harding said. “From the beginning, I wanted to be a big part of it. And I am representing Pittsburgh, and I can’t be slacking.
For more with Harding, don’t miss the latest edition of the Pittsburgh Soccer Show on Pittsburgh Sports Live
Head Coach Tom Campbell wants his club to play aggressively, but also be a strong possession team that will be able to build up play out of the back.
One of those players he’ll be counting on, on the left side, will be Harding, who’s played a lot of left outside back, and also as a winger.
Among the crop of local current players joining Harding include his long-time pal, Luke Mort, who also committed to Pitt last Fall, and they’ve been training together all spring, as Mort graduated early from Greensburg Central Catholic to join Jay Vidovich‘s program this past Spring season.
“With a lot of these guys, we’ve been more than just teammates. We’ve been at each other’s house growing up. Seeing them, and getting to play with them in the past week has been a good feeling,” Harding said.
Harding and Mort look at having played a lot of minutes in the spring season at Pitt, and now playing with the Hotspurs, as ways they can continue to develop and reach higher ceilings as players.
“Luke brings speed, and he’s not afraid to go at someone,” Harding spoke of his teammate at both Pitt and with the Spurs. “Playing with the Hotspurs this Summer is going to help the both of us for when we go back to Pitt. So far, he’s been playing a lot of (left) wing, and I’ve been playing left back, and we have to just hold down that left side. It will help us with endurance, getting touches — and so when we go back to Pitt, we’ll be ready.”
Even with veterans Kolarac, Broome, along with Lamine Balde (Fort Pitt Regiment/Bethany), Max Flick (Fort Pitt Regiment/Point Park) and Noah Mehta (Fort Pitt Regiment/Duquesne), the HotSpurs are really committed to building a strong homegrown roster. (See bottom of the page for the full roster as it currently exists).
“We’ve got guys that are 29 (Balde), and we have guys that are younger than me,” Harding said. “It’s all over the place. We just got to come together and be one,”
On the flip side, a former veteran pro Kolarac is equally committed to helping build the Hotppurs as a strong NPSL entity.
“I want to be a part of building the game in Pittsburgh — which is why the Pittsburgh Hotspurs were a great draw for me,” said Kolarac. “Having grown up and learned the game in Pittsburgh, keeping my soccer career here is exactly where I want to be.”
And now, Kolarac, will serve as a mentor of sorts as part of a club that also includes numerous current college players like Harding, Mort and many others, but also to youth players that are part of the Hotspurs organization have been invited to train with the Men’s First Team. Majority of them are the birth year 2004.
“The experience to train at a higher level, and even compete for a spot, is a large part of the homegrown opportunity we want to provide our area youth to further their development,” Marikaye DeTemple, Hotspurs Marketing and Operations Director, said.
COLLIDING WITH COMMODORES IN EDINBORO
The Hotspurs will be in for a tough test right off the bat on Saturday, as they’ll take on a Commodores squad that has the benefit of having already played a U.S. Open Cup match (a 2-1 loss to Dayton Dutch Lions) and one league match (a 2-0 win at Syracuse FC).
With the Annual Erie Premier Sports Memorial Day soccer tournament being held all weekend at Edinboro, the match will be the showcase game of the weekend with a captured audience. DeTemple said that they’ve already sold 600 tickets for the match, as she added the Hotspurs organization is fielding numerous teams in the tournament.
While technically, the match vs Erie at Edinboro is a home match, the Hotspurs will play all of its home games at Ellis School’s field in Shadyside.
They play its first game at Ellis on Friday, June 7, against Cleveland.
For the Hotspurs complete schedule and more information about the club, you can visit their website here. For in-game updates for the opening game at Edinboro, you can follow Hotspurs twitter updates (@HotspursClub).
PITTSBURGH HOTSPURS ROSTER
(players in italics are currently training with club, but still in process of officially being rostered)
|First Name||Last Name||Number||Hometown||Previously Played At…|
|Keasel||Broome||1 – GK||Claymont, DE||Providence College|
|Matthew||Cillo||2||McDonald, PA||Robert Morris University|
|Max||Flick||3||Beaver Falls, PA||Point Park University|
|Mikel||Ubeda||4||Sopelana, Spain||Bethany College|
|Andrew||Mastovich||5||Murrysville, PA||Penn State Behrend|
|Ethan||Hackenberg||6||Cranberry Township, PA||Cleveland Internationals|
|Lamine||Balde||7||Guinea, Fria||Bethany College|
|Nick||Kolarac||8||Imperial, PA||Saint Francis University|
|Kevin||Stoffle||9||Vienna, Austria||Bluefield College|
|Lucas||Godinho||10||Sao Paulo, Brazil||Point Park University|
|Luke||Mort||11||Greensburg, PA||University of Pittsburgh|
|Peter||Mattocks||12||Saegertown, PA||Westminster College|
|Jeremy||Lucas||13 – GK||Murrysville, PA||Penn State New Kensington|
|Anthony||Harding||15||North Huntingdon, PA||University of Pittsburgh|
|Tate||Mohney||16||Butler, PA||Elizabethtown College|
|Sean||Abraham||17||Oakmont, PA||Penn State Behrend|
|Noah||Mehta||18||Mississauga, Ontario||Duquesne University|
|Matthew||Rytel||19||PIttsburgh, PA||Brown University|
|Patrick||Hoffman||21 – GK||St. Mary’s, PA||Misericordia University|
|Auston||Kranick||22||Murrysville, PA||Oakland University|
|Marcus||Gurgiolo||23||Edinburg, PA||Westminster College|
|Marc||Alexander||24||Pittsburgh, PA||University of Hartford|
|Gabe||Norris||26||Natrona Heights, PA||Riverhounds|
|Lucas||Alese||28||New Bethlehem, PA||Hotspurs|
|Nate||Rondinelli||29||Karns City, PA||Hotspurs|
|Keaton||Jennings||34 – GK||Cranberry Township, PA||George Mason University|
|Ahmed||Cisse||Germantown, MD||Westminster College|
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