Pittsburgh Riverhounds have begun their preseason camp with all signed players in attendance except for one.
The one player that’s MIA here in Pittsburgh would be 2015 leading goal scorer Rob Vincent, who is currently on trial with Major League Soccer’s DC United.
The United are getting a real good look at the Liverpool, England native who scored 21 goals as an All-USL first team selection in all competitions for the Riverhounds in 2015.
According to Black and Red United website that covers DC United, Vincent, has appeared in 3 preseason scrimmages, playing 135 minutes and getting two starts.
Saturday night, sporting the jersey number 40 — Vincent played 58 minutes in a starting role versus the same Tampa Bay Rowdies who he delivered the elimination blow against in a 1-0 win for the Hounds the U.S. Open Cup last May.
Vincent’s has been with the United since they began preseason in late January (and also had a brief trial previously last October), and this week for the second phase of the preseason in Florida which includes friendlies with the Rowdies (won 1-0 on Saturday), Philadelphia Union (Wednesday) and Montreal Impact (Saturday).
Both Wednesday and Saturday friendlies are scheduled for 4 p.m. kickoffs, and both will be streamed live by the Rowdies YouTube channel.
It’s unclear what the United’s final roster will be looking like, but we know that Head Coach Ben Olsen, who’s in the process of revamping his midfield, has liked what he’s seen from Vincent.
“He has been sharp,” Olsen told Steven Goff of the Washington Post last week.
Olsen still wasn’t revealing much more than that.
“But there is a lot of competition for roster spots.”
With Vincent getting a good share of minutes in preseason scrimmages should imply that Olsen and General Manager, Dave Kasper, are taking a hard look at the Riverhounds midfielder. If the United decide to add Vincent to their 2016 senior team roster, it would come at a cost.
They would have to buy out his existing Riverhounds contract.
With the complicated salary cap and other roster restrictions such as international player spots (8 per team) and limitations that make up how MLS 28-man rosters are constructed, the coaching staff and former Riverhounds executive Kasper are using the limited time they have this preseason to carefully evaluate players like Vincent who are brought on trial.
A decision on Vincent, and United’s final roster movement will likely come later this week.
The United are preparing for an early start to the competitive season, as they will be traveling to Mexico after their friendly on Saturday night — as they will take on Quaretaro in the opening of the CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
And that’s the response that would be entirely expected from Steffens, a USL Hall of Fame coach who fully understands the realities of second-and-third division professional soccer.
The Riverhounds roster, with 18 signed players and more trialists, appears to have lots of competition for starting spots. As season two of the Steffens era begins, there appears to be a lot of optimism on where this team is heading in 2016, with or without Vincent.
We’ll have to see if they’ll have some extra gravy.