MEMBER CLUB SPOTLIGHT | PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS ACADEMY
RICHMOND, VA (October 19, 2017) – The Boys Elite Clubs National League was founded to provide a top level, club-based development, training, and competition platform for youth male soccer players. Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy were one of the founding clubs of the Boys ECNL, and are an “All-In” ECNL club with both their girls and boys programs in the ECNL beginning this year.
The Boys ECNL sat down with Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy’s Sporting Director Jason Kutney to get a better understanding of the Riverhounds’ mission and perspective on the game.
Q: What is the history and mission behind the club?
The Riverhounds Academy was launched in 2007 to provide young soccer players with a thorough understanding of the game and the skills necessary to perform on the field.
We deliver a skill-driven system of development focusing on individual player improvement rather than winning team competitions. Our curriculum was initially designed in association with Everton F.C. of the English Premier League.
The Riverhounds Academy currently develops about 1,300 players between the ages of 3 and 18 and provides identification opportunities to participate in the Riverhounds Development Academy (RDA), the highest tier within our youth system.
Q: What are the core values of your club?
Like the nature of the people of Pittsburgh, the club embodies the ideals of hard work and resilience. The name “Riverhounds” comes historically from the barge workers who would spend long hours along the rivers of Pittsburgh during the height of steel manufacturing and transport. Our youth programming aims to deliver a developmental product shaped by sophisticated investment in state of the art facilities, expertise from a blended mix of cultural experiences in staffing, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, all built on a foundation of hard work.
Q: How does having a USL team help player development on the youth side?
The presence of a USL team helps in a few distinct ways:
- Full Model: Our club is able to draw a regular and real connection between the youth and professional player through all that we offer. Our Academy Director of Goalkeeping is our First Team’s GK Coach. Our Academy Director of Sports Science leads all performance training for the First Team. Assistant Coach Andrew Scheck is our 2004B head coach. These are 3 small examples of an intertwined system that constantly ensure young players realize their potential in a professional environment, with all resources shared.
- Learning and Inspiration: Approximately 50% of our First Team players serve as technical trainers in our Academy, with players like Kevin Kerr, Corey Hertzog, Stephen Okai, Taylor Washington, and Victor Souto taking significant roles in specific Academy teams. The ability for young players to draw upon their experiences with the pros, on the field, and then watch those same pros in USL matches makes for an amazing experience in the development of both.
- Opportunities: We regularly assess players in our system in order to pipeline them to the highest levels of the game, namely MLS Academies, domestically. Additionally, we carve out opportunities for our players to train in other countries when appropriate. As part of this process, we will pull players into training with the First Team.
Q: What attracted you to the Boys ECNL and made you want to join the league?
I have been a fan of the ECNL since its inception on the girl’s side. It was clear to me that the league understood and respected the individuality of participating clubs and fostered league growth through that individuality. For the Pittsburgh market, it was vital that we carved out opportunities for our players to compete on a national stage. With the abundance of leagues out there, we viewed ECNL as the ‘right fit’ for us. We consider ourselves very fortunate to participate in such a powerful league, alongside an amazing collection of renowned clubs.
Q: What do you expect from your club in the inaugural Boys ECNL Season?
Everything we look to do is about raising a bar. We will win games, we will lose games. Hopefully we win more than we lose, but the reality is, we will help our players compete on a platform that stimulates their development and exposure. Beyond this, we will work hard to ensure all clubs that travel into Pittsburgh have a top-class experience.
Q: Now that you are several conference games into the season, what has been your experience?
The Boys ECNL is proving to be on the right path. The league leadership is clearing the early season hurdles and is calling upon clubs to sort out issues so they do not become problems. Accountability translates to professionalism. The Midwest clubs, and club directors, have all been great to work with through the early going and we look forward to a bright future in the Boys ECNL.
Good luck to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in their first season in the Boys ECNL as they work to qualify for the ENPL Playoffs in June!
About Boys Elite Clubs National League: Boys Elite Clubs National League (Boys ECNL) was founded to provide a top level, club-based development, training, and competition platform for youth male soccer players in the United States. The mission of the Boys ECNL is to improve the landscape for players in the United States through innovative, player-centered programming that raises standards of quality and improves the player experience in all aspects of the game.