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Pittsburgh soccer icon Gene Klein passes away after battle with cancer

There are many people who have been a part of the Pittsburgh soccer community during the past 50-60 years, but very few have made the same lasting impact that Gene Klein made.

In 2021, the former Pittsburgh Riverhounds Head Coach/Technical Director and long time Quaker Valley High School Head Coach was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer — glioblastoma — in February of 2021.

On Monday, Klein passed away after his two-year battle.

Klein became the sixth member of the Riverhounds’ Hall of Fame and the first to be inducted after the original class was named in 2019. The ceremony will be the highlight of the team’s Throwback Night promotion, and many of Klein’s former players from the Hounds will be in attendance for the induction.

Pittsburgh soccer icon Gene Klein to be inducted into Riverhounds SC Hall of Fame

Klein was an ever-present figure in the Riverhounds organization from its inception in 1999 when he served as an assistant on coach John Kowalski’s original staff.

In 2006, he was named head coach of the Riverhounds and served in that capacity through the 2009 season. Klein’s tenure as head coach was a transformative one for the club, which did not field a team in the 2007 season while the front office reorganized.

Klein also held the role of general manager during that period. Under his leadership, the team found a more stable home at Chartiers Valley High School and established the Riverhounds Academy, forging a relationship with England’s Everton FC and bringing the “Everton Way” training methods to the club in the Academy’s early years. Since then, the Academy has since grown and flourished with thousands of youth players in Western Pennsylvania coming through the Hounds’ programs.

After his coaching tenure with the Hounds, Klein remained visible as one of the club’s most prominent ambassadors. From 2014-19, he and longtime coaching colleague Paul Child reunited in the broadcast booth, providing analysis on telecasts for a new generation of Hounds fans.

In addition to his work with the Riverhounds, Klein is one of the most accomplished scholastic coaches in Pennsylvania history.

Klein won a record six PIAA state championships and more than 500 games coaching the boys soccer team at Quaker Valley High School in Leetsdale, Pa., where he taught social studies for 33 years. He is a two-time inductee to the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Hall of Fame, both as an individual and as coach of the undefeated 1996 Quakers. He also served stints as Director of Coaching for the PA West state association and as President of the PA Soccer Coaches Association.

Klein was just as dedicated as an educator off the field as he was on it. He taught for 33 years at Quaker Valley, teaching World History and AP history courses while serving as head of the school’s Social Studies department at the time of his retirement in 2015.

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC issued the following statement shortly after learning Klein’s passing:

“The entire Riverhounds organization sends its condolences and best wishes to Gene’s wife, Anne, and all of his surviving family and loved ones.”

Arrangements will be announced by his family at a later time.

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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