TAMPA, Fla. – Even the best defensive teams need a centerpiece that can be built around.
In 6-foot-6 center back Joe Greenspan, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC had the best in the USL Championship in 2019.
Greenspan was named the USL Championship’s 2019 Defender of the Year on Tuesday to complete a season that saw him earn a second consecutive place on the Championship’s All-League First Team and lead the Hounds to 17 shutouts, tying the league’s regular-season record set by the Rochester Rhinos in 2015, and a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference for the first time in club history.
The 27-year-old played a role in 15 of the club’s shutouts during the regular season, the most of any individual alongside teammates Kenardo Forbes and Tobi Adewole, as he led the Hounds with 159 clearances and won 69.4 percent of duels and 75 percent of aerial duels.
Greenspan also posted 49 interceptions and 193 recoveries, but it was his positioning and timing that helped set him apart this season. The former Navy standout was only dribbled past by an opponent on 12 occasions while conceding only 25 fouls, none of which led to a penalty kick. He also proved adept at the other end of the field, scoring four goals and adding two assists as one of the top set piece threats in the league.
Greenspan garnered 61 percent of the vote to earn the award, while Indy Eleven’s Neveal Hackshaw finished second on 22 percent and Louisville City FC’s Oscar Jimenez finished third on 17 percent.
The 2019 USL Championship Awards were voted on by team management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL Championship market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2019 Championship regular season.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Matt Pickens, Nashville SC
Defender of the Year: Joe Greenspan, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Coach of the Year: November 20
Young Player of the Year: November 20
Most Valuable Player: November 21
2011: Rob Valentino, Orlando City SC
2012: Troy Roberts, Rochester Rhinos
2013: Colin Falvey, Charleston Battery
2014: Nemanja Vukovic, Sacramento Republic FC
2015: Bryan Burke, Louisville City FC
2016: Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls II
2017: Sebastien Ibeagha, San Antonio FC
2018: Forrest Lasso, FC Cincinnati