In the plush interior of Highmark’s Club level, Bob Lilley stood at the podium, grinning ear to ear. The hard work of assembling his team for the 2020 season was almost completed. The cold and endless period of preseason matches and trialists attempting to impress was nearly at a close. The lucky men that had survived the cull stood behind him.
That included three players that the team was on the verge of signing: goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, midfielder/defender Dakota Barnathan, and midfielder Danny Griffin.
The 26-year-old Gomez, a native of Montemorelos, Mexico is the most experienced of the three new signings. Gomez joins the team after two years with Saint Louis FC. In 2019, he started 17 games, recording a 1.41 Goals Against average and turning in 5 Clean Sheet performances. Gomez spent time in MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2015, and also played with Bob Lilley’s Rochester Rhinos in 2016 and 2017.
Barnathan spent four weeks on trial with the Hounds – the longest stint of any player – before his eventual signing today. Barnathan is 25 years old and a native of Massapequa, New York. The VCU graduate was the 3rd round pick of FC Dallas in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, but he spent that year and the next with Swope Park Rangers before joining Ottawa Fury for 2019. The Fury suspended operations on November 9th last year, and as a result, all of their former players were released. Barnathan played 1,963 minutes last year over 22 starts; the Fury collectively finished 8th in the Eastern Conference, conceding 43 goals, also 8th-best in USL East.
Griffin is the youngest of the new Hounds. He joins the Hounds after finishing up at Providence College in the Big East, where he started every match for the Friars in 2019, tallying 2 goals and 4 assists. Two of those assists came in the NCAA tournament this past Fall, as Providence beat NJIT and Penn State in the first two rounds before falling to ACC powerhouse Clemson in round 3. PSN Editor John Krysinsky described Griffin’s contributions in the last Hounds pre-season match again Loudoun United as ‘high energy’, and that the central midfielder created the first real scoring opportunity of the match for Steevan Dos Santos. Griffin also has experience in some high-level youth soccer settings – playing at the USSDA National Playoffs in 2014 and getting an invite to USMNT U19 camp in 2016.
The three new Hounds round out the nearly-complete roster for the 2020 Riverhounds, who by our count now have 19 players under contract.
News and Notes
Bob Lilley publically introduced new goalkeeper coach Ross Cain to the press on Friday, along with returning coach Assistant coach Dan Visser. Cain was with SKC II in 2019…
Lilley also introduced reporters to center back Mark Lindstrom and also revealed that the 6’3″ native of Sweden has meniscus damage in his knee that will require recovery. There is no timetable for Lindstrom’s recovery, but he will certainly not be available through the first few weeks of the season…
Ropapa Mensah still has yet to join the Hounds. He is back home in Ghana waiting on visa paperwork. Coach Lilley indicated that another potential unsigned player is abroad, waiting on paperwork, so that’s a fun little tantalizing morsel for fans to salivate and wonder about going forward…
Steevan Dos Santos was relegated to strength and conditioning work on the sidelines, although his injury is believed to be minor. Thomas Vancaeyezeele also came out of training early with a calf injury. It too is likely not serious, but both might be limited in minutes or held out entirely of the Monday, March 2 match against Columbus Crew SC…
The Riverhounds Club Section will have some new food offerings for 2020, which were debuted for the press on Friday. The kitchen will be serving up Kimchi Tacos with Fried Avocado, Corn Beef and Saurkraut eggrolls, and Tiramisu to folks that spring for tickets in Highmark’s skybox seating. Yum!
Riverhounds SC Current Roster
Forwards (4): Steevan Dos Santos, Lukas Fernandes, Mark Forrest, Ropapa Mensah
Midfielders (5): Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz, Dani Rovira, Anthony Velarde, Danny Griffin, Dakota Barnathan
Defenders (7): Xhelil Asani, Jordan Dover, Ryan James, Mark Lindstrom, Skylar Thomas, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tony Walls
Goalkeepers (3): Anthony Mwembia, Danny Vitiello, Tomas Gomez