Catching up on all offseason changes
January 25, 2018 | By Rachael McKriger
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds have had a hectic offseason — for all the right reasons.
A new deal with Adidas, Bob Lilley’s hiring and a ton of player signings have Riverhounds fans ready to claim their seats at Highmark Stadium this upcoming March.
The schedule looks promising too, with a mixture of old and new.
New teams like Atlanta United 2, North Carolina FC, Indy Eleven and Nashville SC will take their first trips to Highmark Stadium. North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven join the United Soccer League after leaving the ill-famed North American Soccer League.
Another new change that was made during the offseason dealt with the Riverhounds’ top rivalry. Say goodbye to the Harrisburg City Islanders, and hello to Penn FC. The team is essentially the Islanders, but with a different name.
The Islanders were a team from 2003 until 2017.
With the league’s new-found Division II status in U.S. Soccer, the Riverhounds had to make sure they were up-to-date on rules and regulations. Due to the new status, head coaches had to hold a specific “A” license in U.S. Soccer coaching.
Former Riverhounds head coach Dave Brandt did not meet the requirements, and so Tuffy Shallenberger brought down Bob Lilley from the Rochester Rhinos.
The Rhinos will not be competing during the 2018 season due to the Division II regulations.
Because of that, Lilley wasn’t the only person to make the trip from Rochester, New York, to Pittsburgh. Lilley signed former Rhinos to his roster, including goalkeeper Dan Lynd, midfielders Kenardo Forbes and Christiano François, and defenders Jordan Dover and Raymond Lee.
The roster isn’t completely finished yet, with tryout candidates still being mulled over and other pro players being considered.
However, Lilley did bring back some familiar faces.
Kevin Kerr will be back with the Riverhounds for his sixth season with the club. For the last two years, Kerr, a midfielder, featured as the team’s captain.
Kerr will be surrounded by other familiar faces from last season, including forwards Kay Banjo and Romeo Parkes and defenders Joe Greenspan and Tobi Adewole.
Greenspan was on loan from MLS club Minnesota United FC last year, but signed a one-year contract with the Riverhounds on Jan. 12.
Some members of the Riverhounds who will not be returning, officially, include goalkeeper Keasel Broome, forward Corey Hertzog (signed with St. Louis FC) and Taylor Washington (signed with Nashville SC).
The coaching staff will have some returning members, including assistant coach Dan Visser and goalkeeper coach Hunter Gilstrap.
“I’m very happy to welcome back Dan and Hunter to the staff for this season,” Lilley said. “Both are talented individuals and provide a level of continuity from last year’s squad to this year’s. Alongside Mark, I feel this group gives us the best chance of success in 2018.”
The club will also welcome Mark Pulisic, a longtime associate of Lilley’s — and the father of U.S. Men’s National Team and Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic.
Pulisic, who was hired on Jan. 5, was Lilley’s assistant coach last season in Rochester. He’ll fill the same role in Pittsburgh with Visser.
“After entertaining a few other coaching opportunities for the upcoming season, knowing what Bob brings to a club, and deciding where I would feel most comfortable, Pittsburgh seems like the perfect fit,” Pulisic said. “I look forward to helping the Riverhounds find success in 2018, as Bob and I strive to bring a championship to the city.”
“Mark will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our staff,” Lilley said. “He also understands all the small details that are necessary on and off the field that help players develop and teams be successful. We are very fortunate to have him join us in Pittsburgh for the 2018 season.”
The Riverhounds will begin their preseason training camp on Feb. 5, and surely more offseason signings will be completed before the start date.