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USL Previews the Hounds

Posted by espo On 10:23 AM

USL Feature (taken from www.uslsoccer.com)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS

Coach: Justin Evans
2010 Season: Semifinals, USL-2

The Lowdown – After a preceding pair of disappointing seasons that saw them miss the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds appeared to lay the foundation for a strong run of success in the 2010 USL-2 season. Making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Riverhounds were led by a strong defense and an impressive home record that saw them lose only twice in the league at Chartiers Valley Stadium.

Key Departures – The Riverhounds had close to a perfect offseason, keeping the core of their squad together. According to Coach Justin Evans, no player of major significance has moved on, giving the club a chance to build on the success it found a season ago.

Key Returnees – At the center of that group is the defensive duo of 2010 USL-2 Goalkeeper of the Year Hunter Gilstrap and 2010 USL-2 Defender of the Year Shintaro Harada. After giving up 20 goals in 20 games a season ago, the Riverhounds could have the ability to lower that figure to less than a goal a game this season.

Key Additions – The signing of Thabiso “Boyzzz” Khumalo is likely to add some additional scoring punch for the Riverhounds, and Khumalo could form a strong partnership with 2010 USL-2 Rookie of the Year Jeremy Deighton, who scored five goals in 13 games a season ago. Khumalo’s experience with D.C. United should pay dividends for the Riverhounds.

The Coach’s Opinion – “We are out to win the championship every single year. We are very hopeful that we have done enough in the off season to prepare ourselves to win the championship, as I expect so are the other teams at this point. It is going to be an exciting USL PRO summer of soccer.” – Justin Evans

If it all goes to plan – The Riverhounds certainly appear to be if not the favorite to win the National Division then certainly the co-favorite alongside the Rochester Rhinos. Pittsburgh does have a tricky start to the season with four of its first five games on the road, including a tasty rematch of last season’s USL-2 semifinal against Richmond to open, but if it can get through that passage in good shape a division title could be there for the taking.

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