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Albert Dikwa earns 2023 USL Championship’s Golden Boot for most goals; Kenardo Forbes tied for league lead in assists

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

At no point was the connection between the Riverhounds’ top scorer Albert Dikwa, and top play maker, Kenardo Forbes, more evident than in the second half of late September match at Highmark Stadium against FC Tulsa.

With the Hounds holding on to a 2-1 lead, but adding a sense of urgency to add another goal to secure yet another home victory as Head Coach Bob Lilley was demanding more dynamic play, Forbes and Dikwa connected to give the club a 3-1 lead, on a perfectly placed free kick from Forbes that ended with Dikwa expertly heading the ball into goal.

“We have a good connection,” Dikwa said after that match.

“He looked at me. I looked at him. There were some hand signals, but he knew where I wanted the ball.”

As the season concluded on Saturday night, the Riverhounds completed the 34-match trek with league’s best record (19-5-10 | W-L-D) and points (67) total, that connection paid off both for the team and now with individual achievements.

Dikwa ends the 2023 regular season as the league’s top goal scorer, with 20 goals, as the Cameroonian forward, in his fourth season in Pittsburgh, will be the recipient of the USL Championship’s Golden Boot award.

Forbes, already the league’s all-time leading assists king, ended the season tied with San Antonio’s Jorge Hernandez, with 10 assists.

It’s the Riverhounds’ first Golden Boot winner since Jose Angulo took the honors in 2013, the club’s opening season at Highmark Stadium, when he scored 15 goals, as co-leader that season with Dom Dwyer.  That season, coincidentally, was the last time a Riverhounds’ player led the league in assists, as Matt Dallman had 12, many of them coming when connecting with Angulo.

Recently, Pittsburgh Soccer Now featured Dikwa’s remarkable emergence as a scoring leader, with came from taking a team-oriented approach and lots of hard work.

Doing it for ‘Family’: Albert Dikwa’s prolific scoring run a testament to perseverance, loyalty

While he’s led the league in scoring for much of 2023, despite missing nearly six weeks due to a collar bone injury, the only thing that truly matters to Dikwa is his team’s success and the brotherhood that he’s developed with his teammates including Forbes.

“For me, it’s about the family.  They’re my brothers. We’re always ready to go to war,” Dikwa said on Saturday after reclaiming lead in the race for the USL Championship’s Golden Boot.

“When you (personally) achieve success, everyone can have success, and that’s most important to me.”

Tampa Bay’s Cam Jennings, recently voted the USLC’s Player of the Month for September, closed in on Dikwa’s total, picking up two goals on Saturday, but finished one short to at least tying Dikwa, with 19.

At 35 years of age, Forbes completed a remarkable season in which he added to his all-time assists total, now 65 for his career, but also was second on the team in minutes played, with 2,382 total minutes in league play, starting 29 of 32 matches.

Hernandez earned the Golden Playmaker award after recording 10 assists in 1,905 minutes, edging out Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Kenardo Forbes on the minutes-per-assist tiebreaker. 

Here’s Pittsburgh Soccer Now feature on Forbes written this preseason.

Lilley’s Loyal Lieutenant: Hounds midfielder Kenardo Forbes endures and leads with his own unique style

“He just understands how things work,” Riverhounds’ fellow midfielder Robbie Mertz added when asked about Forbes in the preseason.

“That’s such an important element to the team.  He’s not always going to be a guy that’s most vocal, but he certainly leads by example and he shows up in the big moments. I can’t say enough about him.”

The Hounds will host Detroit City FC, in the first round of the USL Championship Playoffs, on Saturday, October 21, as the match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Highmark Stadium.

USL Championship Playoff Field Set: Hounds-Detroit City to run it back in first-round at Highmark Stadium on Saturday

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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Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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