The Riverhounds SC will have a busy second week of the preseason, as they’ll face Detroit City FC for the first time ever (Tuesday, 3 p.m. at Highmark Stadium), then prepare and travel to meet up with FC Cincinnati of Major League Soccer in Ohio (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.).
Getting loose on a Monday with some one touch. pic.twitter.com/V7CZtNJQ3v
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) April 5, 2021
Week 1 in the Books
Pittsburgh began its first week of preseason with three days of training then on the most challenging of weather days, they took on Gannon University the first scrimmage of the Spring, winning 3-0.
Hounds Head Coach Bob Lilley took his usual diplomatic route when sharing his public assessments of his squad after the match.
In the first match, 22 players were used. Lilley and his staff had chance to see all six trialists in action. With a few positions needing to fill more quality depth to the roster, particularly center back, Lilley started two trialists in the middle of the back line: Jonathan Caparelli and Jelani Peters. In addition, he got a more extensive look at another trialist, Rodney Michael, at midfield, in the starting lineup.
Who Are the Current Trialists?
Joining the club this week will be one additional player on trial to the six players that were with the team last week: Rennico Clark.
Here’s what we’ve been able to gather on each of these players.
Jonathan Caparelli (Defender, 5-10, 146 lbs, Buenos Aires, Argentina, last club: Chattanooga Red Wolves)
Caparelli is a crafty, hard-nosed defender from Argentina, but a product of Chivas USA Academy, who has bounced around the U.S. Soccer pro circuit since 2015, with his most recent experiences with FC Tuscon and Chattanooga Red Wolves in USL’s League One, where he made 25 appearances, starting in 22 of those matches.
All I’m going to say is USL Championship clubs are upsetting MLS teams. I understand it’s “preseason” but just shows the level of soccer in the lower leagues of US Soccer… Love it.
— Jonathan Caparelli (@JCaparelli21) March 28, 2021
Rennico Clarke (Defender, 6-4 195 Kingston, Jamaica (Charleston Battery)
We already know that Lilley likes physically imposing center backs with plenty of skill. Clarke fits this bill. He was once a SuperDraft selection of the Portland Timbers, and has made 12 USL Championship appearances in the past two years for Swope Park Rangers and Charleston Battery.
Rodney Michael (Forward, 5-8, 150, Freetown, Sierra Leone (UCSB)
A native of Sierra Leone and straight out of college, Michael is a speedy forward who was considered by some to be a first-round MLS SuperDraft pick in mock drafts by some online soccer sites. He helped the University of California at Santa Barbara Gauchos advance to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2019.
Michael recently told Nookhawk.com (Santa Barbara):“I woke up as an expected first-round pick in the MLS SuperDraft and now (I’m) going to sleep having not been selected. However, that does not weaken my resolve but rather encourages me to work harder for whatever opportunity comes next.
“From Sierra Leone to UCSB, nothing has been gifted to me … I can’t wait to write this next chapter.”
Jelani Peters (Defender, 6-4, 190, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (Toronto FC II)
Much like they did last year when they signed Skylar Thomas, the Hounds are looking at another recent Toronto FC II player to fill another spot on the back line. Along with Hounds signee Meikel Williams, Peters has been a Trinidad & Tobago international (called up to team in 2016 and 2018). He only made six appearances with TFCII from 2017-2019.
Eduard Puga (MF, 5-8, 150, Sancti Spirtus, Cuba, Ringkobing IF)
Like a lot of Cuban players, not much is known about Puga. He’s played in Denmark with Ringkøbing IF and has made appearances with Cuba’s U20 squad. In addition, Puga did score in the Hounds’ first preseason match on Thursday after entering the match in the 61st minute.
Stefan Rokvic (MF 6-1 167 Muskego, WI; Wright State University)
A former Wright State standout, Rokvic’s family originates from Drvar, Bosnia, but he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition to excelling at Wright State, Rokvic played with Flint City Bucks of USL League Two.
— Wright State Men's Soccer (@WSU_Mens_Soccer) November 3, 2018
Shane Weidt (Defender, 6-3, 185 Akron, OH; Loudoun United)
Weidt is a former Akron and Pitt standout defender, who was part of Akron’s College Cup teams, but transferred to Pitt for his graduate senior season in 2018. Weidt has since played the past two seasons with Loudoun United, where he’s made 20 appearances, including a number of games against the Hounds, giving Bob Lilley plenty of time to see his strengths and weaknesses.
Concussion Protocols To Allow Two Substitutions
On Monday, US Soccer announced that it will implement concussion substitutions in 2021. The new rule allows teams to make two concussion substitutes to replace players with head injuries, regardless of the number of substitutions already used.
Hounds coach Bob Lilley was certainly in favor of USL Championship keeping the five substitution rule at three different times in each match which was utilized in 2020, so he’ll be happy to see this rule being put into place.
U.S. Soccer, alongside a concussion task force composed of sporting and medical leaders from Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, the United Soccer League and the National Independent Soccer Association, agreed to implement the rule collaboratively across the sport in the United States.
“Adopting this new rule is an important step as we continue to lead the way in player safety,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Chiampas.
“It was critical to come together as a sport with our professional leagues and proceed in this pilot program, prioritizing the well-being of our players above all. We’ve worked hard to raise awareness of head injuries in soccer over the last several years, and this change should go a long way in protecting players suspected of suffering a concussion.”
Riverhounds 2021 Roster & Depth Chart