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Joe Greenspan named 2019 USL Defender of the Year

Joe Greenspan

Most Pittsburgh fans could tell you that a huge reason for the Riverhounds tremendous success in 2019 was the outstanding play of the backline in general, and Joe Greenspan in specific.

And now, everyone in USL knows it to be true.

The USL announced today that Riverhounds SC defender Joseph Greenspan is the 2019 Defender of the Year.

Joe’s stats for the Hounds were eyepopping in 2019. He registered 4.83 Clearances per 90 minutes, as he was the key element in neutralizing opponents’ aerial attacks and crosses. On offense, Greenspan’s 48.2 passes per 90 lead all defenders, as Joe was tasked with protecting the ball out of the back and starting the attack in the Hounds own end. The 27-year-old also played every minute during the team’s 698-minute shutout streak, which was the second-longest such streak in USL Championship history.

Perhaps most important was recognizing that the Riverhounds exceptional season, in which the team finished first in USL Eastern Conference, was built on the back of a dominant and impenetrable defense that was lead by Ensign Joe. The Riverhounds led the USL in shutouts with 18, and were third in all the league in Goals Allowed, conceded just 30 goals on the year.

On the offensive end, Greenspan set career highs in goals (four), assists (two) and points (10) for the 2019 campaign.

He also was named to USL’s team of the week for week 33 as he steadied the backline for a 1-0 win against Birmingham while also serving up an assist. He was named to USL’s ‘Team of the Season’ Starting XI.

Greenspan began his career with the Riverhounds in 2017, on loan from Minnesota United FC. The move became permanent in 2018. After an outstanding collegiate career with the US Naval Academy, the 6 foot 6 Greenspan began his professional career with the Colorado Rapids in 2015-16, but saw limited use before being traded to Minnesota United.

The Hounds have yet to announce roster moves for 2020, but after turning in one of the finest seasons in team history, it is certain that the Riverhound faithful are hoping to see Ensign Joe anchor the backline for the team once again.

Mark Asher Goodman is a writer for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, covering the Riverhounds, the Pitt Men's and Women's teams, and youth soccer. He also co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line with Rabbi and Red.' He has written in the past for the Washington Post, Denver Post, The Athletic, and American Soccer Analysis. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

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