TAMPA, Fla. – The USL Championship announced the Team of the Week Presented by Cleer Audio for Week 18 of the 2021 regular season on Tuesday, with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC forward Russell Cicerone voted Player of the Week after recording his first professional hat trick in the Hounds’ 4-1 victory against Atlanta United 2 on Sunday night at Highmark Stadium.
Cicerone has enjoyed a career season since joining the Hounds this offseason, having previous set single-season highs in both goals and assists prior to Sunday’s game. Despite having an early penalty kick saved, the 26-year-old rebounded to open the scoring a little over a minute later before adding two more finishes either side of halftime in a matchup that served as a potential postseason preview with the Hounds in second place in the Atlantic Division and Atlanta sitting third in the Central. Cicerone is now tied for second in the Championship with 11 goals, more than double his five-goal campaigns each of the past two years as his career continues to trend up in his fifth season in the pro ranks.
Cicerone earned 58 percent of the ballot to claim the award. Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Andre Rawls, who notched a nine-save shutout to earn his side a 0-0 draw with Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night, and Miami FC forward Billy Forbes, who came on at halftime and scored both goals in a 2-0 victory against Hartford Athletic on Sunday, finished tied for second on 17 percent apiece.
The Championship’s Player of the Week is selected by the USL National Media Panel, which is made up of representatives from each media market in the Championship.
GK – Andre Rawls, Phoenix Rising FC: Andre Rawls produced a nine-save shutout to earn Phoenix a 0-0 draw against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night to maintain the club’s undefeated home record this season.
D – Rashid Tetteh, New Mexico United: The Ghanaian put in a strong performance in New Mexico’s 1-1 draw with Oakland Roots SC, making a key goal line clearance in the second half while winning 8 of 9 duels and making nine recoveries.
D – Jackson Ragen, Tacoma Defiance: The Sounders Academy product continued to come into his own after signing recently with the Defiance and notched the opening goal in Tacoma’s 3-0 win against Orange County SC last Wednesday while also recording nine clearances and completing 54 of 56 passes.
D – Andrew Fox, El Paso Locomotive FC: Andrew Fox had an excellent two-way performance in Locomotive FC’s 3-1 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night, recording one assist, two key passes and three shots in attack while winning 3 of 4 tackles and 4 of 6 duels defensively.
M – Danny Barrera, Hartford Athletic: The Championship’s co-assist leader had a goal as well as his eighth helper of the year in Hartford’s 2-1 win against the Charleston Battery last Tuesday night and also recorded eight key passes while completing 46 of 57 passes and winning 7 of 9 duels in midfield.
M – Miguel Ibarra, San Diego Loyal SC: The former United States international starred as San Diego recorded its biggest win in club history in a 5-1 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC last Wednesday night with one goal, two assists, three shots and six key passes for the hosts at Torero Stadium.
M – Alex Dixon, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Alex Dixon continued his outstanding recent run of form as he recorded two assists and five key passes in the attacking half while also winning 7 of 9 duels and 4 of 4 aerial duels in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win against Atlanta United 2.
M – Ted Ku-DiPietro, Loudoun United FC: The 19-year-old notched the final goal in United’s 4-1 victory against Indy Eleven on Wednesday night to cap a performance that saw him record five shots and six key passes while completing 44 of 50 passes overall.
F – Russell Cicerone, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Russell Cicerone scored the first hat trick of his professional career to lead the Hounds to a 4-1 victory against Atlanta United 2 on Sunday night while recording five shots and completing 15 of 20 passes.
F – Billy Forbes, Miami FC: The Turks & Caicos international came on as a halftime substitute against Hartford Athletic on Sunday night and had an immediate impact for the hosts, scoring three minutes into the second half on the way to a pair of goals in a 2-0 victory while also notching two key passes.
F – Michee Ngalina, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: The Congolese winger notched a late game-tying goal to add to his eighth assist of the season earlier in the contest to remain tied with Danny Barrera for first place in the league, and also completed 35 of 40 passes and won 9 of 14 duels in a 3-3 draw with the Charlotte Independence.
Bench: Jeff Caldwell (HFD), Leland Archer (CHS), Mitchell Osmond (OKC), Eric Bird (TUL), Sebastian Velasquez (ELP), Hadji Barry (COS), Sylvain Marveaux (CLT)
Tag(s): News Team of the Week Videos CO Spring Switchbacks OKC Energy FC Phoenix Rising FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Charlotte Independence Pittsburgh Riverhounds Danny Barrera Billy Forbes Sebastián Velásquez Alex Dixon Russell Cicerone Hadji Barry Jackson Ragen El Paso Locomotive FC Andre Rawls Michee Ngalina Leland Archer New Mexico United Hartford Athletic Tacoma Defiance Mitchell Osmond Rashid Tetteh Jeff Caldwell Andrew Fox Theodore Ku-DiPietro San Diego Loyal SC The Miami FC Oakland Roots SC