Content. Video. Photos. Get your Riverhounds SC fix with our live 2019 preseason blog. This page will be updated frequently throughout the team's preseason camp, providing the latest updates and news surrounding the club.
Photo credits: Chris Cowger and Cortney Peasley
Heading into the final stretch of preseason, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC forward Neco Brett can see a noticeable improvement in the team’s attack.
“We’re getting to know each other much more,” Brett said. “Practice is going much better as a collective group of strikers. We’re scoring more goals, so that’s always a plus. We’re learning how each other likes to play and their run, so that’s the most important thing right now.”
Brett led the Black and Gold in scoring last season with 15 goals and 37 points. This year, the forward will have even more help up top. The Hounds revamped their offense this offseason and brought in a talented group to work alongside Brett.
With the additions of Christian Volesky and Steevan Dos Santos, Brett noted the forwards are developing chemistry and helping each other further their skillsets.
“It’s been great, we’re learning from each other,” Brett said. “We’re also pushing each other to get better, which is always the ultimate goal.”
As three games remain on the preseason slate, for Brett his biggest goal is to continue to expand his knowledge of the game. These final exhibition matches will help give the frontline a better idea of what exactly the coaching staff is looking for from them.
“You always want to learn,” Brett said. “I just want to focus on what [head coach Bob Lilley] is saying and trying to be more aware of what he wants. Hopefully I can execute.”
The Hounds will take on the University of Akron at 3 p.m. on Friday at Highmark Stadium. They will wrap up the weekend at 12 p.m. on Sunday, hosting Lansing Ignite FC. All preseason matches at Highmark Stadium are free to attend for the public.
Caleb Smith talks about making the jump to professional soccer.
As Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC shoots for a second straight playoff bid, it will rely heavily on a veteran presence that radiates throughout its lineup.
Of currently rostered players, four athletes have played at least 100 games in the USL Championship. And a total of eight Hounds have at least 50 games played in the league under their belt.
“It’s huge,” midfielder Kenardo Forbes said. “To have a lot of veteran guys who have played in the playoffs, that’s good. I think that’s what we were missing last year.”
Among five new additions to the returning roster, two have previous USL Cup experience. Both Steevan Dos Santos and Christian Volesky were part of the 2015 league-champion Rochester Rhinos.
“It’s the same,” Forbes said about working with both Dos Santos and Volesky. “The chemistry is the same. I know what Volesky wanted, I know what Steevan wanted.”
Forbes said Volesky is a player who excels at getting behind defenses whereas Dos Santos provides the opportunity for the midfielder to play a ball at his forward’s feet.
The next time the Hounds are in action comes at 3 p.m. on Friday at Highmark Stadium, as the team will face off against the University of Akron. This match will mark the team’s seventh preseason match and yet another benchmark before regular season play.
“Just to see where we are,” Forbes said about the opportunity this game provides the squad. “The season starts in another two weeks, so we have to get it right.”
This weekend, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC showed off a couple of its new additions.
On Friday against the University of Pittsburgh, Steevan Dos Santos displayed his powerful shot, beating the Panthers goalkeeper from the edge of the 18-yard box. And then on Sunday against Bethlehem Steel FC, Christian Volesky contorted his leg to volley a ball from Neco Brett into the back of the net.
“I think it’s coming,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “We’re doing a lot of work on that in practice to get our spacing and keep the ball traveling, and I think we have some good technical players who can do that. We have to keep pushing ahead.”
Already showing off their scoring potential, Dos Santos and Volesky join returner Brett on the Hounds’ frontline heading into the 2019 campaign. This trio is poised to lead the squad’s attack, as Pittsburgh looks to build off of last year’s playoff season.
With more goals in sight, here is the breakdown of the team’s frontline.
Returning to the Hounds in 2019, Brett is coming off a season that he led the club in goals (15) and points (37). His 37-point campaign is the third highest in team history.
Steevan Dos Santos
Arriving in Pittsburgh from Ottawa Fury FC, Dos Santos provides the Hounds with a large target. With his 6-foot-4-inch frame, the forward brings the ability to win jump balls in addition to shield defenders for ball control.
Scoring 10 goals while playing for Saint Louis FC and Oklahoma City Energy FC in 2018, Volesky brings his scoring acumen to the Hounds in 2019. Over the course of his four-season USL Championship career, the striker has 36 goals and nine assists.