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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Hounds add standout Tormenta forward Kazaiah Sterling

25-year-old English forward joins after two years at South Georgia Tormenta FC in USL League One as the club’s record goal-scorer

As the 2024 regular season draws ever nearer for the Riverhounds, the team had a clear need at forward following the offseason departure of leading 2023 goalscorer Albert Dikwa – with veteran Edward Kizza, rookie Babacar Diene, and more-winger-0rtiented Langston Blackstock as the only forwards on the roster this preseason. A significant part of that need is now filled as the Hounds completed the signing of USL League One standout Kazaiah Sterling after a brief trial period.

“Kaz is very good in front of goal and intelligent with his movement in attacking areas. He also is a gifted passer who can link play and make life difficult for opposing defenders, and we look forward to having him as part of our team in 2024,” said Riverhounds coach Bob Lilley in the team’s press release.

The 25-year-old striker joins after two seasons with South Georgia Tormenta FC in which he tallied 32 goals over 47 appearances in league play, helping guide the Statesboro, GA outfit to the USL League One title in 2022 and two victories over USL Championship sides Charleston Battery and Birmingham Legion in the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. Sterling also scored against Inter Miami CF of Major League Soccer in a losing effort in the Round of 32 that year.

Sterling has a deep pedigree at the game’s highest levels – having developed in Tottenham’s youth academy and making his first team debut in the UEFA Champions League in the club’s 2017 group stage match against APOEL Nicosa. He has also appeared for Tottenham in the FA Cup against Crystal Palace, and also represented England’s U17s at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile alongside players such as Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold. After loans to English Football League clubs Sunderland AFC, Doncaster Rovers FC, Southend United, and Leyton Orient, as well as Scottish Championship side Greenock Morton FC, Sterling left Tottenham on a free transfer and joined Tormenta FC for the 2022 season.

In addition to becoming Tormenta’s all-time leading scorer, Sterling’s four-goal playoff run would lead the club to their first professional title as USL League One champions, with Sterling himself named as MVP of the championship match. While Tormenta couldn’t repeat their overall form in 2023, Sterling didn’t slow down at all – finishing second in the league in goals + assists per 90 minutes for the second consecutive season.

Sterling will fill a key need for the Hounds, as replacing Dikwa’s league-leading 20-goal campaign is certainly the most daunting task offensively the club faces in the 2024 season. While the burden won’t solely fall on Sterling or any other singular player, having multiple available goalscoring options can help chip away at that task and Sterling’s record fits the bill of being able to make significant contributions to that effort. While Kizza and Diene appear to be penciled in starters for the season opener, Sterling will help push the forward group further ahead and provide much-needed rotation without sacrificing attacking prowess, and will likely see significant starting minutes as well over the course of the year.

The Hounds have just one other forward trialist in camp – former Chattanooga FC standout Markus Naglestad – so getting the Sterling signing over the line was a must to flesh out the positional depth chart. Now the Hounds will hope Sterling can translate his USL League One form to the Championship with consistency – and will be in great position if he does.

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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