Through the first three games, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC has been using depth to its advantage.
The Hounds have used at least four substitutes in their two road victories, and even used the maximum of five against Philadelphia Union II.
“Player development is going well,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “We’re certainly trying to win games, and some guys will log more minutes than others. But I think there’s some good young players that can bring a lot of good things to the table.”
This depth could benefit the Hounds (2-1-0) in their match against New York Red Bulls II (1-2-0) at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Red Bull Arena, which will be televised on 22 The Point. After all, this is their third match in nine days, and several young players have already gotten opportunities to shine.
For instance, Hunter Ashworth made his first professional start against Louisville City FC earlier this season and played a part in keeping Louisville to only one goal.
Danny Griffin made his professional debut against Louisville and made his first professional start against Philadelphia. The midfielder scored a goal and dished out two assists in a 6-0 rout of Philadelphia back on July 18. Lukas Fernandes also netted his first career goal against Philadelphia after making his USL Championship debut against Louisville.
“I think Bob’s done a great job at making all of us flexible,” defender Jordan Dover said. “I think we’re all comfortable with making in-game adjustments. It took a couple of days of training to work out the kinks, like where Dani [Rovira] would be and how that would affect me. I think Dani did a great job and we did a decent job of following the game plan against Indy.”
This season, players like Rovira and Ryan James have shown versatility. James, perhaps showing the most versatility, has started each match thus far in a different position – holding midfield, left back and center back.
“I think the backline has done a good job so far,” Dover said. “I think everyone has caught on to the principles of the team. Hunter has picked up some things, Ryan and Dani have picked up things quickly. But New York is very dynamic and dangerous. I think the main thing for us is making sure we’re organized, and that we don’t turn the ball over in bad areas. They’re always scoring a lot of goals and putting a lot of shots on net."