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MLS move ‘a mild consideration’ but not ‘an ambition’ for Pittsburgh Riverhounds

File Photo courtesy Mark Goodman

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds may have spoken about a move to the MLS in the past, but are at least for now, remaining loyal to the USL, Jeff Garner has stated.

This article is the latest in a five-part series with Pittsburgh Riverhounds President Jeff Garner about the state of the franchise, both on and off the field. 

Given everything that has been going on this offseason, it seems as though the gap (at least in terms of cooperation) is wider than ever between Major League Soccer, the USSF and the USL. But regardless of what your feelings are surrounding the situation, the fact is that the MLS is still the top league in the sport within the United States of America. 

There has been some talk recently about the city of Pittsburgh possibly gaining a 4th team across the ‘major’ professional sports in the United States in the form of either an NBA or WNBA team, but more than a decade ago there was talk of the Riverhounds becoming the next major team to represent the 412. 

With six consecutive playoff appearances, a Player’s Shield under their belts and three straight years of increased average attendance, the argument could be made that the Riverhounds have gone far beyond establishing themselves in the ‘lower division’ and should be looking to move forward, much in the same way Orlando City, FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC all did before making the move to the MLS. 

But in the eyes of the Riverhounds president Jeff Garner, who was speaking exclusively to Pittsburgh Soccer Now, the MLS is not the end goal for the club as a whole, instead reaffirming their allegiance to the USL and their desire to see that league grow rather than jump ship, at least for the time being: 

“It is a mild consideration, I don’t think it’s an ambition necessarily, I wouldn’t use a word like that, our goal was not to become an MLS franchise. I don’t think we’re completely opposed to it, especially over the next few years if we expand the stadium and there’s fan support here, which we anticipate there will be as the game continues to grow. 

“Could that be a possibility on the road? Maybe. It’s not part of our plan right now and it’s not something we’re working towards. I think we’d like to continue to see the USL grow. I think the model of the USL is something that, especially when it comes to player transfers and player rights I think is something that we’re really excited about and bullish about. I think the ecosystem of the USL is something that we’ve bought into and supportive of. And so I think more so than seeing an MLS franchise, I think you’ll see the Riverhounds grow within the USL.”


Previous articles in this series include:

Riverhounds president Jeff Garner “open to building relationships” in Pittsburgh after success of 2023

Highmark Stadium expansion a ‘challenge’, but Riverhounds have ‘opportunities to get very creative’

Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ Jeff Garner ‘certainly not against’ more cooperation between club and supporters

Pittsburgh Riverhounds ‘considering the option’ of adding women’s team in near-future



Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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