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Riverhounds SC’s Arturo Ordoñez earns 2023 USL Championship Defender of the Year

Riverhounds SC center back Arturo Ordoñez was announced today as the 2023 USL Championship Defender of the Year, with the Spanish center back earning the honor after a standout season in which he anchored the best back line in the Championship’s Eastern Conference while also contributing to the side in the attacking third.

A native of Salou, Spain, Ordoñez had a standout second season for the Hounds. He ranked second in the league with 106 aerial duels won at a success rate of 75.7 percent and also made 239 recoveries, also good for second among outfield players.

Overall, Ordóñez won 63.7 percent of duels and 69.6 percent of tackles and also scored five goals, including the insurance marker in the Hounds’ 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies that clinched the Players’ Shield for the club’s first silverware in the USL Championship era. His five goals were the most by a defender in on season in team history.

“I’m really, really happy to get an award like this in a league with the amount of talent and good players that are in the USL Championship,” Ordóñez said. “I also want to thank all my teammates. They were all so important and made my job easier, and I want to thank the Riverhounds’ coaches for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play.”

The 26-year-old competed in the lower divisions of Spanish soccer for Pobla de Mafumet and on loan with Castelldefels before making the move across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. Twice voted to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-League Team and the ACC All-Tournament Team, Ordoñez remained in Pittsburgh to turn pro with the Hounds before the 2022 season.

Over the past two seasons, he has recorded 66 appearances – second only to fellow 2023 All-League selection Kenardo Forbes for the Hounds – and leads the club with 262 clearances, 354 duels won overall, and 216 aerial duels won. He was a fixture in the back line, as his 5,647 minutes played were the most ever by a Hounds player in their first two pro seasons.

Ordoñez received 45 percent of the ballot to earn the award. Sacramento Republic FC’s Jack Gurr finishes second with 40 percent after recording five goals and six assists in a sterling two-way campaign for the top side in the Western Conference, while Gurr’s Republic FC teammateConor Donovan finished third on 14 percent.

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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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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