In December, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Columbus Crew announced that they would have an affiliation partnership for the 2016 season.
On Sunday, in their third preseason scrimmage, and even though there was no formal announcement from either team, we finally saw two players from the Crew Ben Swanson and Marshall Hollingsworth, on the field with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
The 18-year old Swanson is a highly touted player in the U.S. system, and was signed in 2014 as a homegrown player for the Crew. Swanson represented United States’ youth teams on several occasions, including wearing the captain’s armband for the U-18 team in a friendly against Canada in April.
Hollingsworth, 22-year old who played collegiately at Wheaton College in Illinois, was the Crew’s second round draft pick in January.
On Sunday, Swanson played in central midfield for the Hounds, while Hollingsworth, listed as a midfielder, played left back.
Individually, each showed why they are MLS quality players.
Swanson may have played a bit more deliberate and cautious — but was solid on the ball and accurate in distribution from a defensive center midfield role.
Hollingsworth seemed to really want to assert himself when he played in the 2nd half. The 40th overall pick in MLS SuperDraft showed an ability to play physical, winning a handful of 50/50 balls and wasn’t afraid to take a few extra touches to move the ball forward.
It appears that Riverhounds Head Coach Mark Steffens and his staff will have a lot of options and healthy competition for playing time from a roster that now features a total of 25 players.
When speaking with Steffens last Sunday, he said the Crew players would have to earn their spots in the lineup like everyone else.
Barring a slew of injuries or other changes including additional Crew players coming on loan, it appears this is the roster that we’ll be expecting to see from the Hounds.
Sunday’s 2-1 loss certainly provided a lot of players with opportunities to get more valuable playing time. Still, overall the team didn’t look to play in-sync or able to develop any kind of rhythm in passing and possession. Now that all the players are in training, Steffens has made it clear that this is where the Riverhounds will have to start taking stride to improve prior to opening night on April 2 vs the defending league champs.
The team’s roster breakdown by position is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS 2015 Club Nationality/Hometown Age
Hunter Gilstrap Carolina Railhawks (NASL) USA (Ashville, NC) 32
Mauricio Vargas Wichita FC – NPSL Costa Rica 22
Brenden Alfrey Robert Morris Univ USA * (HG) 21
*Homegrown player (Pittsburgh, PA – Central Catholic HS)
DEFENDERS 2015 Club Nationality/Hometown Age
Willie Hunt Riverhounds USA (Greenville, SC) 28
Drew Russell Riverhounds USA (Bedford, TX) 25
Karsten Smith Ft. Lauderdale (NASL) USA ( Huntington Station, NY) 27
Isaiah Schafer VPS – Finland USA (Lakewood, CO) 25
Ryan Dodson IFK Stockaryd/Rörviks IF USA (Aurora, Ill) 23
Caleb Postlewait Butler University USA (Grand Rapids, MI) 23
** Sergio Campbell Columbus Crew / Univ of Conn. Jamaica 24
^ Marshall Hollingsworth Columbus Crew / Wheaton College USA (Libertyville, IL) 22
MIDFIELDERS 2015 Club Nationality/Hometown Age
Lebo Moloto Riverhounds South Africa 23
Kevin Kerr Riverhounds Scotland 27
Mike Green Riverhounds USA (Seattle, WA) 26
Stephen Okai Riverhounds Ghana 26
Nick Kolarac Riverhounds USA (*HG) 23
*Homegrown Player (Pittsburgh, PA – W. Allegheny HS)
Alex Harlley Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) Togo 23
James Bissue Montreal Impact (MLS/USL) Ghana 24
Romeo Parkes Isidro Metapán – El Salvador Jamaica 25
** Conor Branson University of Charleston (WV) England 24
^ Ben Swanson Columbus Crew USA (Grove City, OH) 18
FORWARDS 2015 Club Nationality/Hometown Age
Corey Hertzog Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) USA (Reading, PA) 25
** Duwayne Ewart Vancouver Whitecaps Acad Canada 17
Zak Boggs Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) USA (Marietta, OH) 29
** Not officially signed
^ On Loan from Columbus Crew (MLS)