The second week of the preseason begins for the Riverhounds on Tuesday as Head Coach Bob Lilley and his coaching staff have trimmed down the number of trialists from 19 to 13, bringing five newer faces into camp.
Lilley is hoping that he can build team chemistry as early as possible. Based on his post-game reaction Sunday after the Hounds’ second 2-0 preseason win vs Villanova, he’s clearly not satisfied with his team’s lack of sharpness.
For one thing, it might be difficult to build cohesion when four players signed to the roster have yet to appear in camp. Hounds faithful shouldn’t have too much to worry about, though, as Thomas Vancaeyezeele and Tony Walls will be with the club Tuesday, while Jordan Dover and Ropapa Mensah, should be in camp soon.
As for the trialists, as Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s Mark Goodman pointed out Sunday, Patrick Oknonkwo, who scored twice on Sunday in the win vs Villanova, is one of seven trialists who will be back for another week, while another six new hopefuls join the fray (see full list below).
I feel like odds are decent for Patrick Okonkwo to make the Hounds. And maybe even challenge Ropapa Mensah as the presumptive starter alongside Dos Santos. https://t.co/JDJoIgZfqq
— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) February 10, 2020
The Hounds still have a lot of work to do to get to a desired roster between 22-24 players. The list of trialists below is broken down by position, so you can get a closer look at the competition for roster spots.
Among the newer group of players on trial includes Tomas Gomez, who is yet another former Rochester Rhino. The 26-year old goalkeeper made 38 appearances for the Rhinos in 2016-17, as he was the USL’s Golden Glove winner both seasons while playing for Lilley. Gomez’s spent the past two seasons in Saint Louis where he’s picked up 12 clean sheets.
Riverhounds SC current roster
- Forwards (3): Steevan Dos Santos, Lukas Fernandes, Mark Forrest, Ropapa Mensah
- Midfielders (4): Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz, Dani Rovira, Anthony Velarde
- Defenders (5): Xhelil Asani, Jordan Dover, Ryan James, Mark Lindstrom, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tony Walls
- Goalkeepers (1): Anthony Mwembia
Riverhounds SC trialists for week two:
Those in italics — returning from week one
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown (Previous Club)
- Ettore Ballestracci F 6-0 165 Sarzana, Italy (University of Charleston WV)
- Albert Dikwa F 5-11 161 Garoua, Cameroon (Saint Louis FC)
- Joe Bell M 6-0 180 Wanaka, New Zealand (University of Virginia)
- Sam Biek M 6-3 186 Marburg, Germany (Western Michigan University)
- Danny Griffin M 5-9 165 Wethersfield, Conn. (Providence College)
- Mario Mastrangelo M 5-11 160 Venetia, Pa. (Saint Francis University PA)
- Patrick Okonkwo M 6-0 174 Lagos, Nigeria (Atlanta United 2)
- Dakota Barnathan D 6-2 165 Massapequa, N.Y. (Ottawa Fury FC)
- Miles Stray D 6-1 200 Point Reyes, Calif. (San Diego State University)
- Skylar Thomas D 6-4 198 Scarborough, Ontario, Canada (Valour FC)
- Jerry Wiltshire D 6-4 187 London, England (Des Moines Menace)
- Tomas Gomez GK 6-1 196 Webster Groves, Mo. (Saint Louis FC)
- Danny Vitiello GK 6-2 185 Massapequa, N.Y. (Nashville SC)
Hounds Add New Keepers Coach Ross Cain
A new season will bring a new goalkeepers coach for the Riverhounds SC.
Ross Cain most recently served as the goalkeeping coach with Sporting Kansas City II during the 2019 USL Championship campaign. Before arriving with Sporting Kansas City II, he spent a season as the goalkeeping coach with Northern Illinois University in 2018.
“We are excited to bring Ross on board for the 2020 season,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “He has worked with many talented young goalkeepers and has experience on some strong staffs as well. We look forward to implementing some of his ideas to help grow the level of our goalkeepers.”
Cain played collegiately as a goalkeeper at University of Illinois-Chicago from 2002-05 and stayed with the program as an assistant coach in 2006 before becoming the director of operations for an additional four seasons. The Rochester, Minnesota native then later returned to the Flames as the men’s soccer goalkeeper coach from 2015-17.
From 2006-10, Cain was a staff coach at Chicago United FC. During his tenure with the amateur side, he worked with numerous goalkeepers who would go on to professional careers, including Stefan Cleveland, Tim Dobrowolski, Mitch Hildebrandt, Zac Lubin and Richard Sanchez.
Under the leadership of Lilley, Cain joins assistant coach Dan Visser as technical staff members for the 2020 season.
For those wondering about the status of former Hounds keeper Hunter Gilstrap, who served as goalkeepers coach and on the bench with coach Lilley for the first-team in 2018 and parts of 2019, Gilstrap is now focusing on his role with the organization at Director of Goalkeeping for the Riverhounds Academy plus he’s also been active with United States Youth .