Academy continues to reinforce how a professional experience will open doors for local players

Pittsburgh -- 30 members of The Riverhounds Academy participated in the U.S. Soccer Training Centers this past week, with 17 girls involved in Monday’s Training Center in Medina, OH and 13 boys at the Columbus Crew Training Complex on Wednesday.  The players were invited to attend the U.S. Training Center by way of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who maintain regular communication with U.S. Soccer with respect to identification opportunities for its players.

Early feedback on the performance of the players has been very positive, with specific notice taken on the high level of technical competence and tactical awareness of the players from the Riverhounds system. 

As noted by Tom Swan, whose daughter Caroline “Swanny” Swan was one of the Riverhounds’ 17 female participants on Monday, the U.S. Soccer Training Center was a fantastic experience that his daughter, and all of the Riverhounds players, were prepared for. 

“Our girls excelled in all of the drills conducted by the coaches at the U.S. Soccer Training Center in Medina,” said Swan.  “The atmosphere at the session was identical to the atmosphere at the Riverhounds Academy sessions—business-like and focused. Clearly, the Riverhounds’ participants were well prepared to accept the challenges posed by the Training Center coaches.  Simply put, the session was virtually an extension of the drills, foot skills, and tactical training my daughter has received at the Riverhounds Academy since she began training at the Academy several years ago.”

The focus of the U.S. Soccer Training Centers is to identify players who possess the overall ability and mindset to potentially compete for a spot at the U.S. National Team level.  Involvement in the Training Centers is reserved for elite players from top clubs, speaking volumes about the strong presence of RDA players included in the identification-based event. 

Since its inception in 2007, The Riverhounds Academy has invested substantial time, care, and money into the total development of young soccer players from the Pittsburgh region.  Taking notice of the Riverhounds’ unprecedented efforts in the Pittsburgh market as the city’s professional team, discussions with U.S. Soccer began to escalate in 2011, in an effort to further enhance opportunities for talented youth players who would emerge through the full pyramid of development offered by the Hounds. 

Diverting all Club resources to the youth players in its system, the Riverhounds hoped to better support the efforts of local individuals hoping to represent Pittsburgh at the U.S. National Team level by creating a professional environment that holds all players, regardless of age and ability, to extraordinarily high standards, on and off the field.  It would be through this top-level environment that top identification opportunities would be crafted.

“I’ve said it many times - everyone wants to be treated like a professional until they’re actually treated like a professional,” said Jason Kutney of the extreme demands and accountability that comes with developing in such an intense environment.  “What we aim to deliver is an experience that will prepare young athletes for success in sport and life.”

According to Bob Fittipaldo, whose daughter Jayna also participated in the girls Training Center, the girls were battle-tested when they entered the event, immediately helping to ease the anxiety that comes with identification-based events. 

“The session at the U. S. Soccer Training Center was very tactical in nature. The drills that the girls were asked to perform were ones that Jayna has practiced hundreds of times with her RDA team. She was very much at ease during the entire session, and I attribute that to all of the hard work and dedication put forth by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds coaching staff. Thank you for enabling Jayna to be in a position to be successful at such a prestigious venue.”

Jayna Fittipaldo is a member of the Under-15 Lady Hounds group that recently won U.S. Club Soccer’s National Championship in Colorado in the tournament’s highest bracket.  She was joined by Lady Hounds teammate, Ciara Terabasso, who earlier this summer, participated in the U.S. National Team’s Under-15 Camp in Texas. 

According to Kutney, the Training Center provides the Riverhounds with both validation and metrics for assessing its own program. 

“We are proud to say that our Academy is recognized for developing top players through proper training systems and that most of these Training Center invitees came through identification in our training.  So, when players arrive for our training sessions, they must be ready to compete for spots on the U.S. National Team – this is something we all take very seriously, staff and student, alike.”

What other participants said about the U.S. Training Center:

Ciara Terabasso

“What a tremendous and memorable time I had last night!  It was a real pleasure to attend and train with a few of my Lady Hounds friends. We all owe a huge thanks to The Riverhounds Academy coaches for preparing us for this wonderful opportunity and experience. The technical and tactical skills they taught us really helped to prepare us for this challenging high level of training.”

Jordyn Minda

"With all the training I am receiving from The Riverhounds Academy, I feel I am more confident in my ability to compete at this level.  I really enjoyed the experience and hope there will be more of these opportunities in my future."

Lexy Kendro

"The technical training I gained from The Riverhounds Development Academy helped me tremendously. I was able to put the skills I learned, such as receiving the ball with my front foot, playing simple to keep the ball, and placing a good first touch on the ball into space while opening up my body and hips."

Ryan Dougherty

"The U.S. Soccer Training Center was a great experience and allowed me to compete against some of the best players in the region in front of U.S. National Team coaches.   I felt well prepared both physically and mentally going into the session because of  the technical and tactical training that I have received through the RDA.  I appreciate the Riverhounds’ recommendation to attend and represent the Pre-Academy Program."