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Riverhounds sign defender Jelani Peters

Photo courtesy Toronto FC

Riverhounds sign defender Jelani Peters

Riverhounds SC has signed defender Jelani Peters to a one-year deal for the 2021 season with a club option for 2022, pending USL Championship and USSF approval.

Peters, 27, is a 6-foot-4 center back and native of Trinidad and Tobago who has been with the Hounds since the beginning of preseason as a trialist, earning a roster spot after starting in four of the five preseason matches to date.

“Jelani is an athletic defender who is good in the air and strong in the tackle. He continues to get more comfortable in our system and should be a sold piece for us moving forward during the 2021 season,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said.

Peters began his career with St. Ann’s Rangers and W Connection in the TT Pro League in his home country, a tenure that included making four starts in the CONCACAF Champions League with W Connection in 2016.

In 2017, he was loaned to Toronto FC II, then in the USL Championship, which would later sign him to a permanent deal. He played for the club through the 2019 season in USL League One, but Toronto FC II did not compete in the 2020 USL season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Peters also received a call-up to the Trinidad and Tobago National Team in 2016 during qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. He was on the bench for matches against Costa Rica and Honduras in the final qualifying round but has yet to make his international debut.

Takeaways from Jelani Peters signing

As mentioned earlier in this week’s Hounds Notebook, the Hounds were thin at center back players on the current roster.

Hounds Notebook: Pondering lineup options

It seemed as if this was a mere formality that they would announce the signing of one or more of the players that have been on trial with the club for most of the preseason.  Peters is one of those guys — and according to Lilley — fits the bill for what he’s looking for to shore up the middle of the Hounds back line.

Fighting for a roster spot throughout preseason means that Peters should be battle-tested and ready for the season opener, as the Hounds may call upon him right away and continue to be in contention for a starting spot.

The concern for Peters would be, even for his age, at 27, to be lacking significant playing time at this level.  His appearances have been sporadic in the most recent years with Toronto FC II and it probably didn’t help him that he missed the entire 2020 season.

One good thing, that possibly Lilley is banking on, is the chemistry that may already exist between Peters and fellow countryman Mekeil Williams along the Hounds back line.

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John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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