Riverhounds SC has added another veteran to its defensive group, signing Mekeil Williams to a one-year contract with a club option for 2022, pending USL and USSF approval.
— Soca Warriors 🇹🇹 (@socawarriors) March 10, 2021
Williams, 30, is a Trinidad and Tobago international whose club career has included stops in MLS with the Colorado Rapids and the USL with both the Richmond Kickers and Oklahoma City Energy.
“Mekeil is a quality defender who can play anywhere across the back line,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said.
“He is comfortable on the ball and is a seasoned pro who will add composure and leadership to our roster. We are excited to have Mekeil joining the Pittsburgh Riverhounds for the 2021 USL Championship season.”
A 6-foot-1 defender, Williams most recently played for top Guatemalan side Municipal. He signed with the club in December 2019 and made 12 appearances in what ended up being a Covid-shortened season. Williams’ experience in the U.S. includes spending 2016-17 with the Rapids, for whom he made a total of 38 league appearances. Williams then moved to USL with the Kickers in 2018, twice suiting up against the Riverhounds that season, and with the Energy in 2019, making a total of 55 USL appearances.
Before coming to the U.S., Williams’ career included a stint in Guatemala, stops with clubs in Poland and Denmark, and time at home in Trinidad and Tobago’s Pro League, where he made his professional debut in 2009 and helped his side, W Connection, win the title in 2014.
Williams has made 36 appearances for Trinidad & Tobago, appearing in both the 2015 and 2019 Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the Soca Warriors. He also scored on his international debut in 2012 in a friendly against Finland.
IMMEDIATE TAKEAWAYS ON MEKEIL WILLIAMS SIGNING
Heading into the off season Hounds Head Coach Bob Lilley and his assistant Dan Visser decided to start completely over with its central defenders in 2021.
They’ve been scouring the market and it appears they’re reloading with veteran players with more extensive experience than we’ve ever seen across a Pittsburgh back line. With the addition of Williams, it appears they now have a real versatile, experienced defender who could play along any position in the back, giving Lilley what he loves to call ‘tactical flexibility’.
Just watching some clips of Williams — he’s good on the ball when in space and getting forward, has excellent vision, passes out of the back and the width pretty well. It might be too early to tell where he might fit in Lilley version of this team.
When he was in Colorado, he was the club’s regular left back and by the end of that tough season, he was out of favor and didn’t return to the club.
The Hounds don’t have an experienced left back on the roster so that’s a spot where he could land, or be a similar player to what Ray Lee did for Lilley in two of the past three seasons — play some on the center back line and some at outside left back.
Could it be possible that because Lilley speaks about Williams in reverence for his versatility, could he slide into the spot Thomas Vancaeyezeele occupied the past few years in the middle of the back line in the 3-5-2 (or 5-3-2) or similar formations?
Along with Preston Kilwien and Alex DeJohn, the addition of WIlliams and Jordan Dover already gives the Hounds a pretty solid and battle-tested back line for the USL Championship level, even before they add more players later when camp opens and more come on trial.
The question is how quickly can they develop chemistry as a group and come together? And how will Williams be used?
One minor problem that could arise, is that Williams is still active with T&T’s first team, and could be called up for international duty at times this coming year.
As Williams had a brief, but somewhat impactful stint in Colorado with the Rapids, I am sure that Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s Mark Goodman will have plenty to add about this latest Riverhounds SC addition too.
You can read his player review of Williams here after the 2017 season, which at times was biting and critical (giving him a D+ for that season) particularly for some of his decision making and positioning, as Goodman provides some detail of a few of Williams’ hiccups that season.
RIVERHOUNDS UPDATED ROSTER & DEPTH CHART
|F1||Russell Cicerone (M)|
|F3||Alex Dixon (M)|
|F6||Josh Gatt (out for season)|
|M- also have played in midfield|
|MF1||Kenardo Forbes (F)|
|MF3||Todd Wharton (D/OB)|
|MF4||Anthony Velarde (F)|
|MF5||Louis Perez (F)|
|F- also played at forward|
|D- also played as defender|
|OB- also played as outside back|
|OB1||Dani Rovira (M)|
|OB3||Jordan Dover (injury)|
|(M) also played midfield|
|CB3||Preston Kilwien (OB)|
|OB- also played at outside back|