In the past five years, the Greater Pittsburgh area has seen an influx of soccer clubs which have provided new, competitive opportunities for mostly locally based players looking to play at the highest levels possible.
Since 2014, the region has been represented with teams in the the following leagues: Premier Development League’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 in 2014-15 (which became USL’s League Two in 2018), National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) with the Fort Pitt Regiment (2015-18), then Pittsburgh Hotspurs (2019-present) and the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) which included Steel City FC (2016-2019), which has transitioned and now run by the Pittsburgh Hotspurs (2020-present).
Century United is the latest organization to throw its hat in the ring, announcing not one, but two expansion clubs in lower level leagues. They’ll be boasting the second WPSL entry in the Pittsburgh region heading into the 2021 season and have added a new entry in the Ohio Valley Premier League (OVPL).
The third club to begin playing in the 2021 summer season of the Ohio Valley Premier League (OVPL) is #CenturyUnited. #GrowTheGame learn more about the OVPL by visiting https://t.co/Ac7Ey64Ffw pic.twitter.com/llrpTHP2Nc
— OVPL Soccer (@ovplsoccer) January 20, 2021
— Women’s Premier Soccer League (@WPSL) January 9, 2021
“We’ve worked very hard, the past 10-15 years to develop ourselves as a club. We’ve moved up the ranks. Have developed some outstanding players, kids. We’ve got all these kids out there playing, asking what can they do in the summer,” David Gray, Century United’s Director of Coaching and General Manager of both clubs.
Taking on head coaching roles for each club will be John Lichina for the OVPL men’s squad and Erica Marshall for the WPSL club. The teams will train utilizing Century’s facilities in Bethel Park, including Cool Springs Sports Complex and Century Field. Games are expected to be played at Century Field.
On Wednesday, Pittsburgh Soccer Now caught up with Gray to get his insights and talk about aspirations for both clubs.
VIDEO: David Gray catches up with PSN’s John Krysinsky
In addition, Gray said that the core rosters for both squads will include players who have been part of Century’s well-established programs, but he did say that they’ll also be holding open tryouts in the coming months for each club.
In addition to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which compete as a professional club in the USL Championship in the second division of the United States soccer pyramid, the Greater Pittsburgh area will now boast an unprecedented four clubs on lower levels of the pyramid:
- NPSL (4th Division): Pittsburgh Hotspurs (founded in 2019)
- OVPL (US Club Soccer -5th Division): Century United (2021 expansion season)
- WPSL (2nd Division):
- Pittsburgh Hotspurs (formerly competed as Steel City FC)
- Century United (2021 expansion season)
The Pittsburgh Soccer Now team is looking forward to bringing more from these clubs in the coming months as they prepare for seasons that will likely kick off sometime around mid-to-late May.
In fact, PSN’s Mark Goodman recently had some fun with the prospects of a rivalry between the two women’s clubs.
I dunno why @Century_Utd have Hotspurs blocked on twitter and apparently neither does Hotspurs.
Should make for an entertaining first-ever WPSL clash between to PGH teams. https://t.co/8yGPxaEiS1
— Soccer Rabbi (@soccer_rabbi) January 14, 2021
More on OVPL
The OVPL was created to benefit soccer players of all ages and genders. Statistics show that US youth soccer participation has declined by nearly 500,000 kids in the last five years. A wide variety of reasons for this decline in participation but the cost of participation and travel are a big reason why people quit playing.
The OVPL is a low-cost and low-travel league. Anybody can create a team and enter the league. The goal is to keep players playing locally so there is community support. All members of the OVPL can showcase the talent in their community with the potential to represent the region on a national level (if desired).
More on WPSL
The #WPSL is the largest women’s soccer league in the world with 130 clubs. The organization represents itself as a national semi-professional women’s soccer league in the United States and Canada. It is on the second level of women’s soccer in the United States soccer pyramid, below National Women’s Soccer League and roughly equal with United Women’s Soccer.