On Monday, the Riverhounds SC announced they were bringing back another familiar face, as the club has re-signed Dani Rovira, as the 24-year-old defender / winger will return for a third season with the club in 2021. The deal is for one year with a club option for 2022, pending USL Championship and USSF approval.
Since signing with the Hounds during the 2019 preseason where he stood out as a trialist after four years at the University of Vermont, Rovira has been utilized as both a defender and as a midfielder, earning spot starts in spots primarily on the width.
“Dani has continued to develop as a player in his two years with the club,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said. “His quickness, technical ability, and versatility have enabled him to help the team in multiple positions, and we look forward to having him with our group in 2021.”
Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Rovira made his club debut, starting in a 3-0 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions second-round of the U.S. Open Cup on May 14, 2019. He would go on to make eight USL appearances in his rookie season, four of them starts.
INSTANT ANALYSIS OF ROVIRA RE-SIGNING
During the course of his two seasons in Pittsburgh, Rovira’s role expanded.
Now a veteran, with two seasons playing under Lilley, Rovira did a decent job when filling in outside back and on the wing — and in one very interesting start when he marked Tyler Pasher the entire game. He stayed behind Jordan Dover and Ryan James on the depth chart and never really broke through to seize a starting spot, but was a reliable fill-in for both, making 10 appearances in 2021 and nine in 2019, with four starts each season.
With James signing with Birmingham, Rovira can have an opportunity to battle for a starting spot on the left outside back.
This move also shows that Lilley is intent on maintaining as much roster continuity as he possibly can despite losing some key players from the last few seasons.
While it may have been tougher for the Hounds to re-sign Thomas Vanceayezeele, James and Robbie Mertz, they have now brought back two players who had contracts expire at the end of 2020, team captain and USL Championship’s all-time leading assist man, Kenardo Forbes, and now Rovira. In addition, Pittsburgh picked up options for four additional players: Danny Griffin, Albert Dikwa, Jordan Dover, Anthony Velarde and goalkeeper Danny Vitiello.
The Hounds have also signed two new players to the 2021 roster: Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon.
In 2020, Rovira made ten appearances and four starts out of 16 matches in the Covid-shortened season. Rovira also recorded his first assist last season when he set up Steevan Dos Santos for the opening goal of a 2-0 win at Loudoun United on August 19.
Are the Hounds done re-signing players from last year’s squad? Of the players that had expiring contracts, only Mark Forrest and Ray Lee remain unsigned. Steevan Dos Santos also moved on, signing with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
In total, the Riverhounds SC now has nine players under contract for the 2021 season.
Forwards: Russell Cicerone, Albert Dikwa, Alex Dixon
Midfielders: Danny Griffin, Kenardo Forbes, Anthony Velarde
Defenders: Jordan Dover, Dani Rovira
Goalkeepers: Danny Vitiello