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Riverhounds SC’s Albert Dikwa wins USL Championship MVP

photo courtesy John Krysinsky / Pittsburgh Soccer Now

Riverhounds SC’s Albert Dikwa has earned the 2023 USL Championship Player of the Year award, with the Cameroonian forward claiming the award after a career season in which he also took the Championship’s Golden Boot while leading the Hounds to the Players’ Shield in the regular season.

In his fourth season with the Hounds, Dikwa recorded a league-leading 20 goals in 28 appearances during the regular season. The 25-year-old averaged a goal every 114.7 minutes on a shot conversion rate of 33.9 percent, and scored 40 percent of the Hounds’ goals as they claimed their first silverware in the USL Championship era.

“This is a great honor for me to be Player of the Year and I’m truly grateful for just the recognition given by the league,” said Dikwa. “Being honest, the journey was easy thanks to the league, the club’s and the USLPA. The standard of this league is getting better and better, and I can probably say the USL Championship is becoming one of the best second divisions in the world.”

Dikwa joined the Hounds prior to the 2020 season having previously played in the Championship for Orlando City B and Saint Louis FC. A season ago he had a breakout year, recording double-digit goals for the first time with 11 tallies, and he built on that success this campaign. He recorded his first hat trick in the league in Pittsburgh’s second game of the season at Memphis 901 FC and had five two-goal performances over the course of the season.

Dikwa capped his season with the opening goal in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium that sealed the Players’ Shield. The finish made him the 13th player in the Championship’s history to record 20 goals in a regular season, a feat he paid tribute to his teammates for.

“When we go out there and play for each other, we’re ready to battle for each other,” said Dikwa. “

And for me, the most important thing is just go out there with my brothers and know that we will get the reward of our work. We will defend together, we will attack together. The spirit is unbelievable in that team, and I love them.”

Dikwa received 57 percent of the ballot to earn the award. Phoenix Rising FC’s Danny Trejo finished second on 11 percent, while Sacramento Republic FC’s Russell Cicerone and the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Cal Jennings finished tied for third on seven percent. Twelve players overall received at least one vote.

The 2023 USL Championship Awards were voted on by club management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market.

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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