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The Returners: Midfielders

By Ryan Rodriguez, 12/12/19, 10:30AM EST

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Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC began its initial offseason roster plans last week, picking up the contract options of eight returning players from the 2019 squad that finished with a No. 1 seed in the USL Championship Eastern Conference.

Just last year, the Hounds returned 10 squad members after the 2018 campaign and went on to have arguably their best season in club history in 2019. Now they are looking to repeat that success in 2020 after re-signing a number of key players. 

Next, a look at the returning midfielders for the Black and Gold.

The Returners: Defenders

Kenardo Forbes

Kenardo Forbes was a stalwart for the Black and Gold in 2019, one of two players on the entire roster to appear in 34 matches for the Riverhounds. His 31 starts was also tied for third most on the team.

The shifty Forbes also provided an offensive spark at midfield for Pittsburgh all year long, finishing with four goals as well as a team-leading nine assists. 

His precision passing helped him to complete over 90 percent of his attempts on the year, a key cog in a Pittsburgh attack that was one of the deadliest in the entire USL Championship. 

Forbes punctuated a superb season with a two-goal effort at home against Indy Eleven on Sept. 28 that saw him score a pair of absolutely stunning, goal-of-the-year candidates.

Robbie Mertz

The Pittsburgh native was an important part of the Hounds attack as well, finishing the season with six goals in 26 appearances, good enough for third on the team, and the most of any player from the midfield. 

The Upper St. Clair High School and University of Michigan alum added four assists to go along with his goalscoring, and provided over 90 percent passing accuracy in his own half on the season. 

He also led all Hounds midfielders in shots on target with 12, and was as responsible defensively as he was offensively, recording 19 interceptions and 32 tackles on the year.

Anthony Velarde

Anthony Velarde made 25 appearances including 11 starts in his rookie season for the Black and Gold, playing over 1,000 minutes after graduating from Fresno Pacific University.

He recorded double-digit takeaways as well as 53 duels won to go along with his three goals during the 2019 campaign, and completed 78.2 percent of his total passes.  He also recorded four assists and 25 key passes on the year.