The Riverhounds made a few eminent moves official on Friday, as the team prepares for its USL season opener on Saturday against defending league champs, NY Red Bulls II (5 p.m. – Highmark Stadium).
Gale Agbossoumonde, 25, who has been with the team on trial for much of March, appearing in three matches, was signed to a one-year deal and Columbus Crew SC midfielder Abuchi Obinwa comes via loan on a match-by-match basis.
The club has also mutually agreed to part ways with midfielder Bryan Arguez.
In addition, Pittsburgh has deactivated midfielder Cristian Martinez, who’s expected to join the team on loan from Columbus, to further clear roster space. All moves are pending USL and USSF approval.
With the latest transactions, the Hounds head into opening kickoff with 27 players on their roster, including 16 newcomers.
Arguez never really saw the field for the Hounds in any preseason action, and when asked about his status, club officials had said throughout the preseason that he was dealing with some injuries.
Natural center/defensive midfielder, Arguez got back into action last season with Ft. Lauderdale Strikers after some legal difficulties that dragged out for a few years, of which he was acquitted.
He made 14 appearances for the Strikers, and the Hounds were probably hoping he could rekindle his form of his younger days when he had made USMNT U-23 appearances and played in Germany.
“We’re certainly disappointed to see Bryan go,” Brandt said. “I wouldn’t say this closes the door on anything potentially happening with him and the club in the future, he just needs to get healthy before we can consider making that step a possibility.”
Agbossoumonde (pronounced AG-BOOS-O-MON-DEH) was in camp with Seattle Sounders earlier this preseason. He is a center back who is a former USMNT prospect.
He has spent the past three seasons in the NASL and spent time with Toronto FC in 2013, making 13 appearances over two seasons. He just came off a season where he had 28 starts for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL.
Agbossoumonde comes from Togo and a fascinating background. When he was one his family, consisting of five boys, two girls, left their native Togo and went to a refugee camp in Benin. The family spent seven years at the camp. Gale and the other boys played soccer barefoot with a ball made of melted rubber and plastic bags. When he was eight, they moved to Syracuse.
Obinwa, 20, the midfielder becomes the fourth player to be loaned from Columbus to Pittsburgh this offseason. A native of Columbus, Obinwa signed with Crew SC this past January, having last played for the U-19 German club Hannover 96. Prior to signing with Hannover, Obinwa recorded a stint with Chicago Magic PSG, an affiliate of French side Paris St. Germain.
“I really like Abuchi. We’ve worked with him for about two weeks or so and he’s been absolutely a pleasure to work with and obviously an excellent player,” Brandt said. “It’s a crowded midfield right now, so we’ll have to sort out how to best use him and how to best use the other guys, but we’re really happy to have Abuchi here.”
Obinwa also has experience with the U.S. Youth National Team, registering playing time with the U-18s in 2014 and U-20s in 2015.