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Lilleyball Stays: Hounds extend Bob Lilley’s contract through 2024

Shortly after the Riverhounds SC season ended, abruptly, in early November, head coach Bob Lilley was asked if he had heard or had any interest in any potentiallly more lucrative or higher profile coaching opportunities.

The veteran USL Hall of Fame coach responded by saying that he knew where he wanted to be.

know where my heart and mind is at,” Lilley stated. “And, it’s here in Pittsburgh.”

Lilley’s professional record as a coach is second-to-none, further adding his desire to help deliver a pro soccer championship to Pittsburgh.

“No, I have not been contacted. (But) my ambition is to win it here.”

The Riverhounds SC shared on Thursday afternoon, in the heart and hustle of the holiday season, that they have agreed to a new, three-year contract that will keep the USL Hall of Famer in charge of the Hounds through the 2024 season.

This news provided a nice holiday gift for Pittsburgh soccer fans and the community.

Lilley, 55, has led the Riverhounds since 2018, and in his four seasons in Pittsburgh, he has become the club’s all-time leader in wins and games coached with a 66-25-34 record across 125 matches in all competitions.

The Hounds have qualified for the USL Championship playoffs in all four seasons under Lilley — the first time the club has reached four straight postseasons — and, in 2019, finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“Since Bob came to Pittsburgh, he has turned the Hounds into a winning team that can compete with anyone in the league,” Riverhounds SC owner Tuffy Shallenberger said. “Keeping a coach of his caliber here is important for our team, as we’re ready to take that next step and start bringing championships back to Pittsburgh.”

In 21 years as a head coach at the pro level, Lilley has accumulated a 317-149-130 record with the Hershey Wildcats, Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps, Detroit Ignition (indoor), Rochester Rhinos and the Riverhounds. He is a five-time Coach of the Year winner, won USL championships with the Whitecaps (2006) and Rhinos (2015), and has qualified his team for the playoffs in all 21 seasons.

PSN’s Bob Lilley Photo Gallery

(Photos courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC / Ed Thompson / Mark Goodman / John Krysinsky / Jason Krysinsky) 

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Lilley is currently the longest-tenured coach in the USL Championship with the same club.

His tenure slightly outpaces Tampa Bay’s Neill Collins and Tulsa’s Michael Nsien, both of whom took over their respective teams during the 2018 season, Lilley’s first year in Pittsburgh.

Following a difficult finish to another winning season which produced a third place finish in the Atlantic Division and a playoff berth, LIlley shared his feelings after the first time in this coaching tenure, he wouldn’t be able to coach in the postseason.

“It was pretty disappointing to put nine months in, and not have the opportunity come playoff time,” Lilley said when he finally caught up with the media more than a week after the team had to forfeit its playoff match at Birmingham.

“It’s one of the tough pills to swallow, that we don’t get to make that run this year.”

Always focused on the next task at hand, Lilley has already been meticulously gearing up for his 2022 roster build with a simple mission.

“How do we give ourselves a better chance next year?”

The Hounds announced that they’re bringing back nine players — a strong core nucleus — from last year’s roster, with intent to sign a few more back who have expired contracts.

Hounds re-sign nine

“Everywhere I’ve been, we’ve built a strong team. We’ve gone further. And I’m determined to get this over the line here.”

Visser, rest of pro staff returning in 2022

Along with Lilley, the remainder of the Hounds’ pro team staff remains intact for the upcoming season, led by top assistant Dan Visser.

Visser, 35, is the longest-tenured member of the pro team — player or coach — having joined the Hounds midway through the 2016 season under previous head coach Dave Brandt. Visser joined the Hounds with experience as both a head coach and assistant at the college level, most recently at the U.S. Naval Academy under Brandt.

The Many Faces of Dan Visser

Lilley kept Visser on his staff after he arrived in 2018, and in 2019, Visser moved into the top assistant role he holds now, a multi-faceted role that ranges from leading training sessions to new player recruitment to scheduling and operational duties with the pro team.

“What Dan does for the team is really important, and sometimes I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves,” Shallenberger said. “Having Bob and Dan back together brings a lot of stability to this team, and that’s going to let us keep building forward.”

Also rejoining the staff for a second year is assistant coach Michael Behonick, who will work primarily with goalkeepers as he serves on the staff of both the Hounds and University of Pittsburgh. Will Marshall, who is the Riverhounds Development Academy’s Director of Goalkeeping, will also serve as an assistant with the pro team for a second year.

The news of Lilley’s and the coaching staff’s retention also comes on the heels of progress at the AHN Montour Health + Sports Medicine Center, where the Hounds intend to move its training headquarters once the facility is ready and completed (targeted for 2022).

PSN’s Bibliography (Lilley’s Greatest Hits: 2018-2021) 

Lilley determined to push Hounds to a strong finish

How bond with Pitt soccer alum, Todd Smith, shaped Bob Lilley’s coaching career

Hounds endure long night, first loss Loudoun United FC and an earful from coach Lilley

Despite some backlash, Lilley stands by Alex DeJohn release

Lilley focused on getting Hounds to grow rapidly in shorter season

Lilley: “We’re going to take another step forward this year”

Lilley sets sights on another ‘significant jump’ for Riverhounds in 2019

View From The Booth: Park the bus? ‘Lilleyball’ offers more

Hounds fail to ‘put hammer down’ in another draw; Lilley calls unbeaten start ‘Hogwash’

Doing it his way, Lilley sets course to build a winner in Pittsburgh

Hounds make stunning coaching change; Lilley replaces ineligible Brandt

 

 

 

Pgh Soccer History: Lilley’s Wildcats defeat Riverhounds, 2-1 before 12,000+ fans (Video)

 

 

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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