Pittsburgh Riverhounds

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Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Logo
Full name Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Nickname(s) The Hounds
Founded 1998; 17 years ago (1998)
as Pittsburgh Riverdogs
Stadium Highmark Stadium
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ground Capacity 3,500
Owner Terry "Tuffy" Shallenberger
(Majority)[1]
President Richard Nightingale
Head Coach Mark Steffens
League USL
2014 Regular Season: 11th
Playoffs: DNQ
Website Club home page
Current season

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds are an American professional soccer team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1998[2] and beginning play in 1999,[3] the club plays in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League, the third tier of the American Soccer Pyramid.[4] Since 2013, the Riverhounds have played their home games at the 3,500-seat Highmark Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium located in Station Square.[5] Their current head coach is Mark Steffens.[6] Since 2014, the Riverhounds have fielded a Premier Development League club, Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23, as part of its player development program which also includes a network of youth academies.[7]

History[edit]

Founding-2011[edit]

The Riverhounds were founded by Paul Heasley, chief executive of Pittsburgh-based Alliance International Ltd., a merchant banking and investment firm, in 1998 as a member of the USL A-League.[8] Heasley, based in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, wanted to create role models and a pathway to a professional career for local talent.[9] The club's name was initially announced as the Pittsburgh Riverdogs after a naming committee of five local businessmen with an interest in soccer was established to name the club in 1998. The Riverdogs name was suggested by Mike Geigel, a member of the committee. Other names that were considered were the Pittsburgh Pulse and Pittsburgh Power.[10] In December 1998, before the Riverdogs ever played a match under that moniker, the name was changed to the Riverhounds after the Charleston RiverDogs, a minor league baseball team in South Carolina, threatened legal action against the club.[11]

The club initially played their home games in Bethel Park, at Bethel Park High School's football stadium. John Kowalski was named the first head coach of the club and Justin Evans, a local Peters Township native, was the first player drafted to play for the Riverhounds. In their inaugural season, the Riverhounds advanced to the conference semi-finals in the A-league playoffs after finishing the regular season with a 16-12 record.[12] Following the season, the Riverhounds were named the A-League Organization of the Year.[13] Two years later in 2001, the club achieved its greatest cup success by reaching the US Open Cup quarterfinals after beating the Colorado Rapids of the Major League Soccer and then-A-league opponent El Paso Patriots in their first two games, but the Hounds were eliminated in the quarterfinals by their second MLS opponent of the tournament, the Chicago Fire, in a two-overtime, 3–2 defeat.[14][15] In 2004, the club moved down to the USL's Second Division. The team also moved to Moon Township to play at Moon Area High School's football stadium for just one season.[16] The 2004 season saw the club also earn its most notable league accomplishment, winning the USL Atlantic Division with a record of 17-2-1.[17] In December 2004, Heasley sold the team to Sports Facility LLC, owners of the Washington Wild Things baseball team of the Frontier League.[18] The Riverhounds played both the 2005 and 2006 seasons at the Wild Things' minor league baseball stadium, Consol Energy Park, on the outskirts of Washington, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Pittsburgh. The franchise continued to hold soccer academies and training for youths across the tri-state Area, but went on hiatus and did not play during the 2007 season due to a structural reorganization.[19][20] During that hiatus, the Riverhounds were sold yet again to a new ownership group. This time, the club was purchased by Greentree Sports-Plex. At the time, Jason Kutney, then Riverhounds defender and future Riverhounds CEO and co-owner, was also CEO of the multi-sport facility.[21] On October 29, 2007, the organization announced another venue change. Beginning with the 2008 season, Chartiers Valley High School's stadium, located just off the Kirwin Heights exit of Interstate 79 in Pittsburgh's South Hills, would be the new home of the Riverhounds.[22] The club played its home matches in the stadium through the 2012 season when its own, permanent soccer-specific stadium was completed.[23] Another significant development just prior to the 2008 season was a partnership that was entered into by the Riverhounds and Everton F.C. of the English Premier League. As part of the partnership the Riverhounds would implement Everton's youth development program into its own academies. Because of this partnership, the Riverhounds also changed its color scheme from its original red, black, and white palette to predominantly blue with white and black accents, reflecting the colors of Everton.[21][24]

From its inception in 1998 to 2012, the club was sold at least three times and called four stadiums home until achieving more stability and beginning the process of acquiring its own stadium beginning in 2012.[21][3]

2012[edit]

Months before the opening of the 2012 USL Pro season, despite speculation and previous attempts to build a permanent home for the Riverhounds at other locations, on December 8, 2011 it was revealed that a stadium for the club could be built at Station Square on what was, at the time, the site of the amphitheater close to downtown Pittsburgh as part of a redevelopment of the area. However, at the time there was no timeline set for the proposed redevelopment.[25] Less than a month later on January 10, 2012, an official announcement was made that the construction would begin and that the stadium would be completed by summer 2012, meaning that the club could play at least a portion of its 2012 home schedule at the new stadium. Construction of the stadium was scheduled to begin in late March to early April 2012 and to be completed during summer 2012.[18] However, construction at the site began in August, several months behind schedule, and the stadium's projected opening was scheduled for fall 2012, potentially as soon as late September. The stadium was financed with an estimated $7 million by private investors in addition to several corporate sponsors including Highmark who hold naming rights for the stadium. Thus, the stadium was named Highmark Stadium.[26] Because of the prolonged construction of Highmark Stadium, the Riverhounds played the entirety of their 2012 season at the stadium of Chartiers Valley High School, the stadium in which the club had played since the 2008 season.[27] In April 2012, the Riverhounds signed Matt Kassel, formerly of the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. Following the standout season in which he scored a team-leading six goals, he was named to the USL PRO All-League 2nd Team, the only Pittsburgh player to make the 1st or 2nd team selection. Following his impressive season, Kassel returned to Major League Soccer by signing for the Philadelphia Union for the 2013 season.[28] In 2012, the Riverhounds also experienced a short run in the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as they entered and were eliminated in the 2nd round after losing 0-1 to the Michigan Bucks of the lower division Premier Development League.[29] The club finished the regular season second to last in the league with a record of 4-5-15, only finishing above the Antigua Barracuda and missing out on the playoffs.[30] The club played its final match at Chartiers Valley High School on August 10, 2012.[23]

2013[edit]

Prior to the 2013 USL Pro season, Pittsburgh signed several experienced offensive players such as Rob Vincent,[31] Kevin Kerr, and José Angulo.[32] Although several warm-up matches and other non-soccer events were held at Highmark Stadium previously, the first official Riverhounds league match took place on April 13, 2013 against the Harrisburg City Islanders, several months after the anticipated completion date. The Riverhounds went on to lose the opening day match 1-2 in front of a sellout crowd of over 4,000 fans. Newly-signed Riverhounds striker José Angulo opened the scoring in the match, thus scoring the first goal in the new stadium's history.[33] In summer 2013, the Riverhounds introduced the Frank B. Fuhrer International Friendly Series, an annual international friendly match pitting the Riverhounds against top clubs from around the world. The series was named after investor and local businessman Frank B. Fuhrer who was also former owner of the Pittsburgh Spirit indoor soccer team.[34] The first edition of the series was held on July 19, 2013 as the Riverhounds fell 1-4 against reigning FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic with José Angulo again scoring the Riverhounds' only goal of the match.[35] On the final matchday of the 2013 regular season, Angulo scored Pittsburgh's only goal in a 1-1 draw with the regular season champion Richmond Kickers. With the goal, Angulo tied Dom Dwyer's goal tally of 15 for the season but was crowned scoring champion on total points, with a total of 34 to 31, after he tallied four assists and Dwyer tallied only one. Angulo's 15 goals tied Dwyer for the all-time single season USL Pro scoring record,[36][37] which was then broken by Kevin Molino of Orlando City SC the following season.[38] At the end of the season, Angulo was also named USL Pro league MVP.[39] Another single-season league record was set by a Pittsburgh player in 2013 as Matt Dallman tallied twelve assists for the Riverhounds throughout the season.[40] This was the first time in league history that Riverhounds players led the league in both categories.[41] On June 27, 2013 it was announced that Terry "Tuffy" Shallenberger of Connellsville, Pennsylvania became an investor in the club, a move that would have major significance to the club in the near future. Shallenberger also established a Riverhounds academy in his hometown at that time.[42] After a slow start to the season in which the Riverhounds recorded only two victories in its first ten matches,[40] the club finished the regular season seventh in the league with a 10-8-8 record, qualifying for the playoffs.[43] However, the Riverhounds did not make it out of the first round after suffering a heavy 0-5 defeat to Orlando City on August 24, 2013.[44]

2014[edit]

In October following the 2013 season, it was announced that former minority shareholder Tuffy Shallenberger had become the majority owner of both the Riverhounds and Highmark Stadium with 51% ownership, with some of his new shares being purchased from Jason Kutney.[45] The following month, the Riverhounds announced that it was forming the Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 team which would begin play in the Premier Development League during the 2014 season as part of the club's player development system.[46] Despite, and potentially because of, the Riverhounds organization's rapid growth, the team filed for voluntary Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Reorganization on March 26, 2014, before the start of the 2014 USL Pro season. Riverhounds majority owner Tuffy Shallenberger stated that the voluntary filing was necessary to reorganize and alleviate financial stresses on the club that stemmed from additional spending which was incurred to increase construction speed at Highmark Stadium which was not part of the original $10.6 million budget. Filing for bankruptcy was seen as a necessary measure to keep the organization growing and make the city an attractive potential home for a Major League Soccer team. Additionally, Riverhounds CEO Jason Kutney stated that the restructuring of debt would, "put the company in a position where that (joining MLS) can be considered, we have to right the ship and make sure we have a model that can work long-term" and that, "We want to break free of these shackles that have held this company hostage the last few months and restructure debt to the point that we can fully engage these (growth) models." Shallenberger stated at that time that he would provide interim financing to keep the team and stadium running during bankruptcy and that the schedule and day-to-day operations of the club woud be not affected.[47] Despite the bankruptcy, the Riverhounds participated in the 2014 USL Pro season as planned. During the season, the Riverhounds were the official USL Pro affiliate of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer as part of a partnership between the USL Pro and MLS.[48] As part of the affiliation, Houston loaned Brian Ownby, Michael Lisch, Anthony Arena, Bryan Salazar, and Jason Johnson back and forth with the Riverhounds throughout the season.[49] The club also made several high-profile player signings to strengthen the squad throughout the season,[50][51] including Dutch international Collins John,[52] Ghanaian international Anthony Obodai,[50] and former MLS player and Zimbabwean international Joseph Ngwenya.[51] In May 2014, the club parted ways with head coach Justin Evans, the club's manager for the previous five seasons. Despite high expectations going into the season, the club was winless in its first seven matches and in last place in the league. Riverhounds player and academy coach Nikola Katic was named interim head coach at that time.[50] The club made a playoff push late in the season[53] but were defeated 1-2 by Arizona United on the final matchday, needing a victory to qualify.[54] Ulimately, the club finished the season 11th in the league with 32 points.[55]

2015[edit]

On November 7, 2014, it was announced that the Riverhounds had emerged from voluntary bankruptcy. The club's plan moving forward called for seeking additional sponsorship opportunities so that the club and Highmark Stadium would be profitable within three years. It was also announced at that time that Jason Kutney would be kept on as the club's CEO and that Nikola Katic would be retained as an assistant coach after having finished the 2014 season as the club's interim head coach. The club began its search for a new head coach and an experienced club president.[56] On December 17, 2014 the Riverhounds met both objectives by hiring championship-winning, longtime Charlotte Eagles head coach Mark Steffens as head coach and Englishman Richard Nightingale, a former executive at Nike, Inc., as president of both the Riverhounds and Highmark Stadium. Allegheny Health Network was then unveiled as the club's new jersey sponsor, replacing #1 Cochran Automotive.[57] Some of Steffen's first changes included signing several former Charlotte Eagles players such as Drew Russell and Fejiro Okiomah,[58] in addition to naming Josh Rife, another of Steffens' former players, as a second assistant coach and head coach of Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23.[59] International players such as South African Lebogang Moloto,[58] Brazilian Vini Dantas,[60] Haitian Max Touloute,[61] Jamaican Ryan Thompson, and Canadian Tyler Pasher[62] were signed to the heavily revamped roster while Colombian José Angulo, 2013 league MVP, former record-holding goalscorer, and the Riverhounds' top scorer the previous two seasons, left the club and signed with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League.[63] Another of Nightingale's first orders of business was dissolving the affiliation with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer which was entered into the previous season, stating that the club preferred to remain without an MLS affiliate to have more autonomy and freedom with their own roster.[64] However, former Dynamo loanee Anthony Arena returned to the club by signing outright with Pittsburgh after being released by the Dynamo at the end of the 2014 MLS season.[65] The Riverhounds finished the 2015 preseason undefeated, getting results of four wins and one draw in five matches.[66] The club continued its impressive performances into the regular season, earning a 5-2 opening day victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders on March 28, 2015. In the match Rob Vincent and Kevin Kerr lead the Pittsburgh offense with a brace and a hattrick, respectively.[67]

Colors and badge[edit]

Originally, the Riverhounds' colors were predominantly red with smaller amounts of black and white. The original logo was designed by Pittsburgh-based BD&E marketing firm. The firm made a strategic decision to not make the club's colors black and gold. The choice meant the Hounds would not align with the region's established professional sports identity, but would allow the soccer fans' jerseys to stand out in a Pittsburgh crowd.[68] The club adopted new colors, predominantly blue with white and black added, before the start of the 2008 season to honor their academy and training partnership with Everton FC of the Premier League. The use of blue is also an allusion to the blue collar populace of Pittsburgh.[69][70] Beginning in 2014, the Riverhounds began wearing black and gold uniforms more regularly, aligning the club with the colors representative of Pittsburgh's other professional sports teams. Blue and black kits continue to be worn as an alternate third version.[71]

Sponsorship[edit]

Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor
2003–2004 Adidas None
2005–2006 Select Toyota
2008–2010 ACES, Inc.
2011–2012 Umbro #1 Cochran
2013−2014 Nike
2015−present Allegheny Health Network

Stadium[edit]

Supporters[edit]

In November 2007, the first supporters group of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was formed, The Steel Army. The Steel Army held their first meeting at Piper's Pub in Pittsburgh's South Side. The group started as 5–10 local people interested in supporting the reorganized Riverhounds Soccer Club and to support the efforts of growing the sport of soccer in Western Pennsylvania as well.[72]

Members are not only from Pittsburgh but also from states as close as Ohio to states as far away as Oregon and Florida. Membership in the Steel Army is now even international with members joining the group from Sunderland and Surrey in the U.K., as well as Bray, in the Republic of Ireland, who will be following the Riverhounds from abroad.[72]

The section of Highmark Stadium where the Steel Army stands and supports the Riverhounds is located at the South Gate end of the stadium. The terrace there holds 502 supporters, with talks of possible expansion. The Steel Army has a fierce rivalry with fellow USL PRO clubs Harrisburg City Islanders (Sons of Susquehanna) and the Rochester Rhinos (Genesee Armada).[72]

Future in Major League Soccer[edit]

The Riverhounds would like to join Major League Soccer by 2023. Highmark Stadium will initially seat 3,500 spectators, though the team plans for an eventual expansion to 18,500.[73][74]

Broadcasting[edit]

In 2000, the Riverhounds reached an agreement with WPTT-AM to broadcast matches on the radio.[75] Chris Shovlin was the play-by-play announcer on WPTT-AM from 2000-2003. Shovlin was partnered with former Riverhounds midfielder Steve Bell during this time. Beginning in 2004, matches were broadcast on WBGG-AM with Shovlin resuming his role as play-by-play announcer.[76] Shovlin won the 2003 Pittsburgh March of Dimes A.I.R. Award for best play-by-play. Following Pittsburgh's hiatus in 2007, matches were broadcast on WPIT-AM with Shovlin again returning as the commentator.[77]

The Riverhounds also reached radio broadcast deals with Fox Sports Radio – Pittsburgh, including in 2005. Chris Shovlin returned to form a play-by-play partnership with former Riverhounds assistant coach Paul Child on Fox Sports Radio.[78] In 2005, FSN Pittsburgh broadcast two Riverhounds matches, the first television broadcasts in franchise history.[79]

All USL Pro matches are streamed live and on-demand free at youtube.com beginning with the 2014 USL Pro season.[80]

First Team Roster[edit]

Number Position Player Nation
2 Forward Amara Soumah      Guinea
3 Defender Anthony Arena      United States
4 Forward Max Touloute      Haiti
5 Defender Sterling Flunder      United States
6 Midfielder Rob Vincent      England
7 Midfielder Stephen Okai      Ghana
8 Midfielder Michael Green      United States
9 Forward Miroslav Čabrilo      Canada
10 Midfielder Kevin Kerr      Scotland
11 Defender Tyler Pasher      Canada
12 Defender Anthony Virgara      United States
13 Goalkeeper Ryan Thompson      Jamaica
14 Midfielder Seth C'deBaca      United States
15 Forward Kene Eze      United States
16 Midfielder Danny Earls      Ireland
17 Defender Drew Russell      United States
18 Midfielder Jeffrey Kyei      Germany
19 Defender Willie Hunt      United States
20 Midfielder Matthew Dallman      United States
21 Defender Fejiro Okiomah      United States
22 Midfielder Lebo Moloto      South Africa
23 Midfielder Nick Kolarac      United States
24 Goalkeeper Ryan Hulings      United States
25 Defender Jereme Raley      United States
28 Forward Vini Dantas      Brazil
30 Goalkeeper Calle Brown      United States

Notable former players[edit]

This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.

Personnel[edit]

Coaching Staff[edit]

Position Staff
Head coach United States Mark Steffens
Assistant coach Croatia Nikola Katic
Assistant coach United States Josh Rife
Goalkeeping coach Netherlands Jeroen Walstra
Fitness coach United States Mike Whiteman
Trainer United States AJ Cubbison

Management[edit]

Position Staff
Owner United States Tuffy Shallenberger
President England Richard Nightingale
Sporting Director United States Jason Kutney
Operations Manager United States John Rotz

Head coaching history[edit]

Name Nat From To Honors
John Kowalski  POL 1999[81] February 7, 2001[82]
Kai Haaskivi  FIN February 7, 2001[82] July 8, 2002[83]
Tim Carter (Interim)  USA July 8, 2002[83] September 5, 2002[84]
Tim Carter  USA September 5, 2002[83] July 11, 2003[84]
Ricardo Iribarren  ARG July 11, 2003[84] December 15, 2005[85] 2004 Atlantic Division Champions
Gene Klein  USA December 15, 2005[85] January 11, 2010[86]
Justin Evans  USA January 11, 2010[86] May 19, 2014[87]
Nikola Katic (interim)  CRO May 19, 2014[87] December 17, 2014[88]
Mark Steffens  USA December 17, 2014[88]

Honors[edit]

League titles
Atlantic Division Champions: 2004

Record[edit]

Year-by-year[edit]

Year Division League Record (W-L-D) Regular Season Playoffs U.S. Open Cup Avg. Attendance
1999
2
USL A-League
16-12-0[12]
Quarterfinals[12] 4th, Northeast[12] Did not qualify[89]
4,178[90]
2000
2
USL A-League
10-14-4[91]
7th, Atlantic[91] Did not qualify[91] 2nd Round[92]
3,808[93]
2001
2
USL A-League
10-12-4[94]
3rd, Northern[94] Quarterfinals[94] Quarterfinals[15]
3,226[90]
2002
2
USL A-League
8-15-5[95]
4th, Northeast[95] Did not qualify[95] Did not qualify[96]
2,274[93]
2003
2
USL A-League
15-9-4[97]
3rd, Northeast[97] Did not qualify[97] 3rd Round[98]
1,783[93]
2004
3
USL Pro Soccer League
17-2-1[99]
1st, Atlantic[99] Semifinals[99] Did not qualify[100]
1,475[101]
2005
3
USL Second Division
6-11-3[102]
7th[102] Did not qualify[103] 1st Round[104]
2,236[101]
2006
3
USL Second Division
8-6-6[105]
3rd[105] Semifinals[105] 1st Round[106]
2,232[101]
2007 On Hiatus[20]
2008
3
USL Second Division
4-10-6[107]
8th[107] Did not qualify[108] 2nd Round[109]
1,258[101]
2009
3
USL Second Division
6-1-4[110]
8th[110] Did not qualify[111] 1st Round[112]
1,178[101]
2010
3
USL Second Division
7-8-5[113]
3rd[113] Semifinals[113] 2nd Round[113]
941[101]
2011
3
USL Pro
7-11-6[114]
10th[114] Quarterfinals[115] 2nd Round[116]
1,127[101]
2012
3
USL Pro
4-15-5[30]
10th[30] Did not qualify[117] 2nd Round[29]
984[101]
2013
3
USL Pro
10-8-8[43]
7th[43] Quarterfinals[44] 2nd Round[118]
3,273[101]
2014
3
USL Pro
9-14-5[119]
11th[119] Did Not Qualify[119] 4th Round[120]
2,686[121]
2015
3
USL
TBD[122]
TBD[122] TBD[122] TBD
TBD

Team records[edit]

Most goals[edit]

# Name Nation Career Goals Appearances
1 David Flavius  Saint Lucia 1999–2006 56 183
2 Thiago Martins  Brazil 2002–2003 30 33
3 José Angulo  Colombia 2013-2014 23 47
3 Phil Karn  United States 1999-2002 23 95
5 Michael Apple  United States 1999-2002, 2004, 2006 21 96
6 Said Ali  Jordan 2004-2005 15 19
6 Gary DePalma  United States 1999-2004 15 145
8 Justin Evans  United States 1999,2000,2001,2003, 2008-2009 14 101
8 Michael Butler  Liberia 1999,2000 14 37
10 Rob Vincent  England 2013- 12 57
11 Kevin Kerr  Scotland 2013- 9 53

Most appearances[edit]

# Name Nation Career Appearances
1 David Flavius  Saint Lucia 1999–2006 183
2 Gary DePalma  United States 1999-2004 147
3 Randy Dedini  United States 1999,2000, 2001-2003 115
4 Nathan Salsi  United States 2004–2006, 2008-2009 114
5 Sterling Flunder  United States 2010- 112
6 Jaman Tripoli  United States 1999-2003 107
7 Justin Evans  United States 1999,2000,2001,2003, 2008-2009 101
8 Jason Kutney  United States 2006, 2008-2013 100
9 Phil Karn  United States 1999-2002 98
10 Michael Apple  United States 1999-2002, 2004, 2006 97
  • Last updated: 1 May 2015, league appearances only
  • Source: soccerstats.us

Notable friendlies[edit]

History vs. Major League Soccer[edit]

References[edit]

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