Other than the announcement that the Pittsburgh Riverhounds will be affiliating with Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, it’s been a mostly quiet December.
That is soon about to change.
While there has been no official word from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, there have been at least two players who have announced that they will be playing for the Hounds in 2016.
The Riverhounds have mentioned earlier in the month that they have had some recent signings, but due to waiting for the players’ official clearance from USL, there have not been any formal announcements.
James Bissue is the first known field player who has reportedly signed with Pittsburgh. Bissue is midfielder from Ghana who was most recently on the roster of Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact, although he didn’t see any playing time with its senior team in 2014 or its USL side in 2015. According to Bissue’s Wikipedia page, there were reports that complications with paperwork kept him from playing for the Impact in the past year.
Here is a video of Bissue in action in Ghana where he had 13 goals in 16 appearances for Eleven Wise (you might have to get past the first two minutes to see his highlights)…
It appears from this video he plays more of a central midfield role. It will be interesting to see where he would fit in and if he would be more of an attacking midfielder in Mark Steffens’ system.
In addition to Bissue, Mauricio Vargas, a 6-foot-4 inch Costa Rican goalkeeper, who played colegiately for NAIA Friends University in Wichita and last summer for FC Wichita of NPSL, where he started every game, posting six clean sheets and 0.79 goals per game as FC Wichita posted an impressive 11-3-0 mark mostly with Vargas in net. Vargas, who goes by “Mau” (pronounced Mo), also played every game for his home nation in U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cup competitions.
Here is Vargas’ profile on FC Wichita’s page – http://www.fcwichita.com/player/mauricio-vargas/
There’s also a video on that page when he was introduced as FC Wichita’s keeper last year, that includes some soundbites from Vargas.
With Vargas, the Hounds will be using a blueprint from the success they had with Calle Brown this past season. Brown, who came from a NCAA National Championship season was overlooked by MLS, and the Hounds grabbed him. Having someone like Brown last year, or Vargas this year, they will have a talented keeper who will be eager to prove himself at the pro level. Brown signed with Houston Dynamo of MLS in the offseason.
By bringing in a young goalkeeper, it might be advantagous to have new Riverhounds Academy Goalkeeping Director, and former Hounds keeper Hunter Gilstrap around as a veteran back-up and mentor for Vargas.
With only Rob Vincent and Kevin Kerr officially the only Riverhounds signed to contracts through the 2016 season, and still too early to tell how many Columbus Crew players will find their way to Pittsburgh, it’s remains unclear exactly how many new players will be brought on board and how many will return.
Another thing to be aware of that might provide some interest to Riverhounds fans, is that the MLS Superdraft will be taking place on January 14, and the Crew, 2015 MLS Cup Runner-Up, will be picking 19th (out of 20 teams). The Crew have four picks in the first two rounds of the four round draft (picks 19, 21, 31 and 41). There’s a possibility that some of those players may end up playing in Pittsburgh this Summer.
So hang in there Riverhounds faithful. Pretty soon, we’ll find out a whole lot more.
And to help you keep track, below you can find the complete list of the 2015 Riverhounds roster, and their current status as we know:
*Still listed on roster on Riverhounds website
Goalkeeper Calle Brown (signed by Houston Dynamo)
Goalkeeper Ryan Thompson (announced not returning to Pittsburgh)
Defender Willie Hunt (signed / released by Tampa Bay Rowdies)
*Forward Amara Soumah
* Defender Anthony Arena
* Forward Max Touloute
*Defender Sterling Flunder
Midfielder Rob Vincent (Signed through 2016)
*Midfielder Stephen Okai
* Midfielder Michael Green
*Forward Miroslav Čabrilo
Midfielder Kevin Kerr (Signed through 2016)
* Defender Tyler Pasher
* Defender Anthony Virgara
* Midfielder Seth C’deBaca
* Forward Kene Eze
* Midfielder Danny Earls (2015 captain)
* Defender Drew Russell
* Midfielder Boris Živanović
* Midfielder Matthew Dallman
* Defender Fejiro Okiomah
* Midfielder Lebo Moloto
* Midfielder Nick Kolarac
* Goalkeeper Ryan Hulings
* Defender Jereme Raley
* Forward Vini Dantas
* Defender Ben Newnam