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Riverhounds GK coach Jon Busch breaks down the ‘different levels of talent’ he has at his disposal with new group

Pittsburgh Riverhounds goalkeeper coach Jon Busch has spoken about some of the challenges he faces as he tries to get the new crop of shot-stoppers ready for the 2024 USL season.

Whilst the biggest loss for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in this past offseason was unquestionably that of league top scorer Albert Dikwa, arguably their next biggest came at the other end of the field in the form of Jamali Waite, the Jamaican who now plys his trade for El Paso Locomotive in the Western Conference.

The stopper recorded 10 clean sheets last season, which ranked joint 3rd in the league as a percentage of games played as he marshaled the second-best defense in the league in terms of goals conceded, setting the tone for the Hounds’ success last campaign.

And speaking exclusively to Pittsburgh Soccer Now, Hounds goalkeeping coach Jon Busch, preparing for his second year in the role, spoke about how he has gone about trying to help find a replacement for someone as important to the team as Waite was last year, pointing out that the goalkeepers at his current disposal aren’t that much different from the man that departed: 

“Jamali was very good, but at the same time, he was still very young, so it’s not that big of a difference if I’m being honest, between him and the three here. If you really look at Jamali’s work, he was only a true starter for a year, just over a year, it’s not like we had a 10-year veteran and now we’re going to three youngsters so it’s very similar. 

“It’s a similar situation, all three have tremendous potential, they’re all working very hard. And it’s my role to get it on track, and to give us the best possible group dynamic to win games.”

Following Waite’s departure, the Hounds have a pretty challenging task on their hands to replace him, and to do that they have started out with three potential options in the preseason, MLS and USL veteran Eric Dick, another first-year pro out of UNC-Wilmington Jacob Randolph and trialist Gabriel Perrotta, all of whom come with their own talents, strengths and weaknesses.

And as Busch explained, trying to find out how to coach all three sets of skills, whilst also getting them to buy into the Hounds’ style of play is no small feat either: 

“You’ve got to know the player profile to begin with, their strengths, their weaknesses. You will also have to understand what specifically we need as far as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and what we expect out of our goalkeepers. 

“We want a very active goalkeeper on crosses, so that’s a priority for us when I’m looking at any goalkeeper. Shot-stopping should be a given, as well as playing with your feet. But there are different levels of talent to all three of those kinds of categories. And so I look at what they bring, but I also look at what we need and that’s the style we play.”

But just who decides on who will be the team’s starting goalkeeper when the regular season rolls around? Even though Busch is the one who works individually with them on a day-to-day basis, as he points out, he isn’t the one who gives the final order on who goes between the sticks: 

“The final decision obviously will rest with Bob, he’s the head boss for a reason. We discuss it pretty much every day, I have my thoughts, I give him my thoughts and opinions, but at the end of the day, he’s the boss and so he makes that final call. I can just give him the information that I see.”

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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