Since it’s been a busy few days in soccer, between the announcement of the Super League and NCAA tournament brackets being released, provides a good excuse for a delayed edition of Hounds Notebook.
Monday brought some interesting news with a signing announcement, but not one that we traditionally see with the Riverhounds SC as they enter week four of preseason.
The week will end with the Hounds traveling for the third straight preseason match — this time at Indianapolis to take on Indy Eleven.
Hounds Sign 17-Year-Old To First-Ever Academy Contract
Riverhounds SC has signed 17-year-old forward Wyatt Borso to a USL Academy contract for the 2021 season, the club announced Monday. Borso’s signing marks the first time the club has brought a player into its first team on a USL Academy contract.
This signing was billed by the USL Championship as ‘historic’.
A historic signing in Pittsburgh ✍️
Forward Wyatt Borso becomes @RiverhoundsSC's first-ever USL Academy signing in club history.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) April 19, 2021
Borso, a native of Aurora, Ill., recently joined the Riverhounds Development Academy after previously playing for the Chicago Fire Soccer Academy. The USL Academy contract allows Borso to train with and play for the Hounds’ pro first team in the USL Championship while still maintaining his amateur status, which will allow him to play for the Hounds Academy and maintain his NCAA eligibility.
“We are looking forward to challenging Wyatt in a first-team environment, as well as making sure he is getting opportunities with the academy for his development. He is an intelligent attacking player who finds dangerous spaces and has the technical qualities to deliver the final pass or convert goal scoring opportunities,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said. “With a very strong RDA coaching staff and more quality players coming through the system, we anticipate others will be ready for this opportunity in the near future.”
Borso has been playing at top clubs throughout his youth career, beginning with Sockers FC (Ill.) before moving to the Fire Academy in the 2018-19 season. He also has participated in U.S. Youth National Team developmental camps, and in 2018, he was the top goal scorer in U.S. Development Academy play.
A Notre Dame recruit, Borso is rated as a four-star prospect and one of the top 10 forwards in the Class of 2022 by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
“We are pleased to welcome Wyatt into the club and will support his development through opportunities with our Academy,” RDA director Scott Gibson said. “Our job is to do everything we can to help our young players improve, and having Wyatt work with our older boys, in addition to his first-team duties, will only help our current players strive to get those opportunities for themselves in the pro team environment. Our RDA staff works closely with the first-team staff to identify players who are ready, and having Wyatt in the system will certainly help aid in that process.”
Borso began training with the pro team this week and will be available for selection for the remainder of the preseason and the start of the 2021 USL Championship regular season. The Riverhounds begin the regular season May 8, when they will travel to face the reigning Eastern Conference title-holders, the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
If someone wants to figure out how many active American professional soccer teams will have had someone play for their first team who was born after that club's first match… https://t.co/zdgCnJFKOZ
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) April 20, 2021
Despite loss to nemesis Lou City FC, Hounds in positive place
As the preseason beat goes on, the Hounds appear to be going about their business. While the result of last weekend’s trip to Louisville was a loss to nemesis Louisville City FC, 2-0 in what will be the only meeting this year in preseason or regular season, Head Coach Bob Lilley feels his team is headed in the right direction after that match.
“We were better than last week, and the possession was pretty even. I think we were pretty good, to be honest,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilleysaid.
“The game was even, but they always look dangerous when they get their time on the ball. It was definitely better than (last Saturday at) Cincinnati, but we still let them in behind us more than I’d like.”
In total, the Hounds still utilized 20 different players, with only goalkeeper Danny Vitiello and midfielder Danny Griffin playing the full 90 minutes.
Griffin felt encouraged by the team’s performance.
“I think going into the game, we worked on some things like cleaning up our defense and not allowing so many chances in behind. Where Cincinnati created a few more, we did a lot to limit Louisville’s chances and create chances of our own,” midfielder Danny Griffin said.
The match was also the Hounds’ first preseason match played with fans in attendance, as Louisville City was able to welcome limited capacity to Lynn Family Stadium.
“There was a bit of a crowd, it’s a big field, and we’re continuing to work our fitness being only three weeks in (to preseason),” Lilley said. “We played 19 field players, and a lot of the starters went 60, 65 minutes. (Midfielder) Kenardo Forbes played the second half, so he got some time. The last two (preseason) games, we’re going to need to see more guys start to play 90 minutes to be ready to head down to Tampa.”
The Riverhounds go on the road one more time this preseason next Saturday, when they will face another USL Championship opponent, Indy Eleven, at 1 p.m. in Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.
Only Peters and Wiedt Remain on Trial
Jelani Peters and Shane Wiedt are the lone holdovers among the trialists of the first three weeks. This means the Hounds current roster of 19 players (as Borso is officially added) and two trialists has them training with 20 players in camp this week.
The remainder of players brought in on trial have been sent home from camp.
The reason why the Hounds are training with 20, is they continued last week with only Casey Bartlett-Scott remaining in his home in England awaiting final approval for his work visa.
Week 4 Schedule
Riverhounds Roster and Projected Depth Chart (Preseason Week 4)