PITTSBURGH (Feb. 28, 2023) — The roster continued to take shape for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Tuesday with the announcement of three new players — midfielder Junior Etou, defender Michael DeShields and forward Tony Lopez — all signed for the 2023 season with team options for 2024, pending USL and U.S. Soccer approval.
About Junior Etou
Etou, 28, is a native of Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, with a lengthy resumé spanning the USL Championship and French leagues. He spent the past season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, where he made 24 appearances in all competitions and was usually deployed in a holding role ahead of the Rowdies’ back three.
“We are excited to welcome Junior to Pittsburgh for the 2023 USL Championship season. He is a ball-winning midfielder who is very good in transition moments, and his work ethic and tenacity are a very good fit for our team,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said.
Before joining the Rowdies, Etou played in 2020 and 2021 for the Charlotte Independence, where he recorded 23 appearances and one goal with his first American club.
Etou, who was raised in France, made his way up through the French league system, beginning as a teenage amateur with J.A. Drancy in the fifth division and moving on to Monts d’Or Azergues. In 2018, he broke into the professional ranks with AS Béziers in Ligue 2. In his one full season before making the move to the U.S., Etou appeared in 17 league matches and in the Coupe de France for Béziers.
About Michael DeShields
DeShields, 24, was selected No. 5 overall by D.C. United in the 2021 MLS Draft out of Wake Forest, and he has appeared in his first two pro seasons with both Loudoun United in the USL Championship and the New England Revolution II in MLS Next Pro.
“Mike is a defender who has very good tools from a defensive standpoint, but who also is a very good short and long range passer that will help us playing out of the back. We also expect him to be a presence in the air on set pieces and look forward to having him with our team in the 2023 USL Championship season,” Lilley said.
After being selected and signed by D.C. United, DeShields — a Baltimore native — was loaned out to Loudoun, where he made 14 appearances in his rookie season. After being released by D.C., he joined the Revolution’s reserve side and made 17 more appearances in 2022.
As a college player at Wake Forest, DeShields was a three-year starter with 60 appearances for the Demon Deacons, and he helped the team reach the 2019 College Cup. He also appeared as an amateur player in USL League Two while in college, playing seven games for the Treasure Coast Tritons.
DeShields has been with the Hounds this preseason, scoring a headed goal in the team’s 3-0 win over Penn State earlier this month.
About Tony Lopez
Lopez, 25, spent the past three seasons with Cal United Strikers FC of the National Independent Soccer Association, where he scored 10 goals and added four assists across 42 appearances. The native of Sylmar, Calif., is coming off a career-best seven-goal season for the Strikers in 2022.
“Tony finds good spots in the box and is equally adept at finishing or providing the final pass to set up a teammate. We think he adds quality to our forward group and look forward to having him for the 2023 USL Championship season,” Lilley said.
Lopez played two college seasons for UC Riverside, where he appeared in 31 matches before turning pro after his sophomore season.
He went overseas to begin his career with Rio Claro FC in the Brazilian second division, with stops domestically in the UPSL and in the German lower divisions before signing with Cal United.
Lopez also has been with the Hounds during this preseason. The three signings announced today brings the Hounds roster to 17 players, with more signings to be announced ahead of the team’s final preseason match this Saturday, March 4 at 2 p.m., when they host Louisville City FC in a 2022 playoff rematch at Highmark Stadium.