Riverhounds set course for the future
The most potent striking combination in USL Pro is returning to Pittsburgh, and it might not be long before they get additional help.
The Riverhounds welcomed back USL Pro Most Valuable Player Jose Angulo and all-league first team midfielder Matt Dallman as part of a news conference to outline the club's plans for the future Tuesday at Highmark Stadium.
Hounds CEO Jason Kutney announced the re-signing of the two players and indicated more signings to strengthen the team are imminent as the club works toward its goal of winning a USL Pro championship.
The news conference also served as a first chance for the media to speak with Terry Shallenberger, the Connellsville businessman who earlier this year became majority owner of the team, and more recently, majority owner of Highmark Stadium.
“They had a great foundation built already here, and we're just trying to help them get to the next level,” Shallenberger said. “It's a great organization, and now the focus is putting a championship team on the field.”
Kutney said the additional investment from Shallenberger and the team's successful first season at Highmark Stadium contributed to the team's ability to retain Angulo and Dallman, both of whom had offers from MLS clubs. The Hounds' CEO said the team is in position to improve by competing for free agents with the largest clubs in its league, such as league champion and MLS-bound Orlando City.
“It's completely different for us now. Before, you had Charleston, Orlando and Los Angeles where, I could come in and make an offer to a player, and the next day, one of them would double it,” Riverhounds coach Justin Evans said. “Now we're able to really go after who we want and make some decent offers where guys will say, ‘Yeah, I like what you guys are doing. I like the offer, so let's move forward.' That's massive for us.”
By re-signing Angulo and Dallman, the Hounds also are showing a commitment to building their fan base after attendance tripled from 2012 to 2013, the first season at Highmark Stadium.
Angulo, who scored a league-record 15 goals in his first season with the team last year, is signed for 2014 with a club option for 2015. His 15 goals and 34 points were both season highs as a pro for the 25-year-old striker.
“It's definitely a great feeling to be back in a place where I've had success,” Angulo said. “It made sense for me to stay here. I've gotten close to a championship in the past years (with Pittsburgh and Harrisburg), and it's never happened. My goal is to get a championship in the USL, and I'm excited to try and do that next year.”
Dallman, whose 12 assists last year were also a league record, signed a two-year deal to remain in Pittsburgh, the sixth stop in the 28-year-old's pro career.
“I've bounced around quite a bit between Europe and the U.S., but I feel very much at home here, and it will be nice to settle down for a while,” Dallman said.