Provided by Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds are pleased to announce the club’s first additions for the 2016 United Soccer League season after receiving league and federation approval for Costa Rican goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas and Togolese midfielder Alex Harlley.
Somerville, New Jersey-born Vargas, 23, moved to Costa Rica with his family shortly after his birth. He grew up playing as an outfielder for the youth clubs of local powerhouse Alajuelense before becoming a goalkeeper at 13-years-old.
Costa Rica’s national team program invited Vargas into its set-up at Under-15 level. He subsequently played every game for Los Ticos at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup alongside current Arsenal forward Joel Campbell.
Vargas moved back to New Jersey during his teens before attending Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas and Friends University in nearby Wichita. He helped F.C. Wichita to win the National Premier Soccer League’s South Central Conference in the club’s inaugural 2015 season.
Harlley, 23, arrived in the United States in 2010 to play collegiately at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona.
He played for three summers with Californian side Santa Clarita Storm in the NPSL before signing his first professional contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks in March 2014. He was listed as one of the North American Soccer League’s 11 Young Players to Watch during the 2015 season.
Harlley is the nephew of Togolese legend and former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
Back in the Burgh
Hounds head coach Mark Steffens and his coaches have been busily reshaping the team’s roster in the three months since the 2015 season ended.
Dynamic midfield duo Rob Vincent and Kevin Kerr supplied 28 of Pittsburgh’s 53 regular season goals last year. Both players remain under contract while South African playmaker Lebo Moloto will also return after an excellent second half to last season that saw him scoring stunning goals against the Charlotte Independence and Rochester Rhinos.
Stephen Okai, Sterling Flunder, Nick Kolarac and Drew Russell are also set to return in 2016.
The club expects to make further signing announcements in the coming weeks as USL and U.S. Soccer Federation approvals are received.
Securing a new goalkeeper had been high on the Hounds’ priority list for the offseason. Jamaican national team stopper Ryan Thompson left the club after making 10 appearances and rookie Calle Brown moved on after agreeing terms with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.
The club has also parted ways with Brazilian forward Vini Dantas.