Riverhounds SC has signed defenders Hunter Ashworth and Patrick Bunk-Andersen each to a one-year contract with a club option for the 2021 season, pending USL Championship and USSF approval.
Both players arrived in camp and have been trialing with the club since the fourth week of preseason.
Patrick Bunk-Andersen arrives with the organization after competing with Toronto FC II in 2019 whereas Ashworth, a UCSB product, will enter his rookie season with the Black and Gold.
“Patrick reads the game well and is comfortable with the ball at his feet,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “He’s a good decision maker who has quickly found his place in the group.”
Bunk-Andersen started 27 of his 28 appearances for 2,475 minutes, leading Toronto FC II in all three statistics in 2019. The defender also led the club with 109 clearances and was just one of four USL League One players to record at least 100 clearances last season. On the offensive side of the ball, he posted five goals, which ranked second most on the team.
The Hvidovre, Denmark native was drafted by Toronto FC with the No. 54 overall pick in the third round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. He went on to sign a deal with affiliated club Toronto FC II. Playing at Clemson University from 2015-18, Bunk-Andersen racked up 82 career collegiate appearances. As a junior and senior, he was named United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Third Team.
Ashworth will join Bunk-Andersen as center back options for the Hounds this season.
“Hunter provides a physical presence who is strong in the tackle and very good in the air,” Lilley said. “He also is a very good passer out of the back and is comfortable with both feet.”
For his collegiate career, Ashworth split time between UCSB (2018-19) and the University of San Francisco (2015-17). At UCSB, he started all 34 of his games played while adding three goals and three assists between his redshirt junior and redshirt senior campaigns.
At San Francisco, the Laguna Beach, California native started 10 of his 13 games played during his freshman season, which was cut short due to a callup to the U-17 New Zealand National Team for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. At the U-17 World Cup, he made three appearances and scored one goal. Ashworth continued his international experience, playing for the U-20 New Zealand National Team in 2016, when he helped the team win the Oceania Football Confederation Championships. He started all of the team’s five games in the tournament and scored one goal, coming against Vanuatu in the final.
In 2017, the 6-foot-5-inch defender suited up for the U-20 New Zealand National Team during the FIFA U-20 World Cup. He started all four of the team’s matches and added one goal against Honduras in group play.
In part due to his international experience, Ashworth redshirted his sophomore campaign at San Francisco and did not play during the Dons’ 2017 season.
Riverhounds SC now has 22 players under contract for the upcoming season.
Takeaways from Ashworth and Bunk-Anderson signings
Just like that, the Hounds erased any concerns about lacking depth at the center back position with these two signings.
Lilley now has a pretty well stocked stable of big bodies, considering he’s already signed Skylar Thomas and Mark Lindstrom. It’s still very likely that both Tony Walls and Thomas Vancaeyezeele will take turns playing in the middle of the back line with any combination of the other center backs part of the equation.
With Lindstrom out for the time being with a knee injury, it’s likely that Ashworth and Bunk-Anderson could vie for starting spot and playing time along with Thomas, who seems the most sure bet to be a regular starter, based on his experience. Bunk-Anderson also brings a year of experience in USL’s League One with TFCII, so he could be the likely candidate to play with Thomas in the opener. Ashworth, though, got most of the minutes in the last preseason match playing with Walls and Thomas as the three center backs.
Roster breakdown for 2020 season:
Forwards (4): Steevan Dos Santos, Lukas Fernandes, Mark Forrest, Ropapa Mensah
Midfielders (6): Dakota Barnathan, Kenardo Forbes, Danny Griffin, Robbie Mertz, Dani Rovira, Anthony Velarde
Defenders (9): Xhelil Asani, Hunter Ashworth, Patrick Bunk-Andersen, Jordan Dover, Ryan James, Mark Lindstrom, Skylar Thomas, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tony Walls
Goalkeepers (3): Tomas Gomez, Anthony Mwembia, Danny Vitiello