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Fortress Highmark sees Riverhounds SC equal league single-season record | News & Notes

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 10/04/23, 2:10PM EDT

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Tampa Bay’s Connor Sparrow joins an elite group in Championship history, plus a notable league first for Kenardo Forbes


Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC's players and fans celebrate victory in their regular season home finale, which saw the side equal the Championship's single-season record for home wins with its 13th victory of the campaign. | Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pitts

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC has welcomed both its highest all-time attendance across all competitions and in the club’s regular season history this year at Highmark Stadium, and a club-best season average.

Those fans have seen the Hounds put together one of the best home regular season campaigns in the USL Championship’s history. In this week’s USL Championship News & Notes we’ll look at the company the Hounds now keep, and the way they can differentiate themselves this postseason.

We also look at a notable landmark for Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper Connor Sparrow that adds to resume among the Championship’s all-time elite, a record-setting USL Championship debut for Sacramento Republic FC’s Da’vian Kimbrough, and a league-first achieved by one of the Championship’s all-time greats in Kenardo Forbes.

There’s also the regular look at upcoming landmarks for individual players around the league, and the Week 31 Discipline Report.

Let’s dig in.

NEWS & NOTES

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC EQUALS HOME WINS RECORD

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC equaled the USL Championship’s single season record for home victories on Saturday with a 3-2 victory against FC Tulsa at Highmark Stadium in its regular season finale. The Hounds have recorded 13 wins on home turf this season, the eighth club to reach the mark in league history.

With 42 points (13-1-3) the Hounds fell one point short of the regular season record for most home points in a regular season, held by Indy Eleven (43pts, 13-0-4) in the 2019 season. Of the seven teams to reach the mark previously in league history, none have claimed the USL Championship Final in the same season, while only the Tampa Bay Rowdies (2021) and Louisville City FC (2022) have reached the Championship Final.

Most Home Wins in a USL Championship Regular Season
T-1. Indy Eleven (2019) – 13-0-4, 43pts
T-1. El Paso Locomotive FC (2021) – 13-0-3, 42pts
T-1. Phoenix Rising FC (2019) – 13-1-3, 42pts
T-1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (2023) – 13-1-3, 42pts
T-1. Louisville City FC (2022) – 13-2-2, 41pts
T-1. Real Monarchs SLC (2018) – 13-2-2, 41pts
T-1. Orlando City SC (2014) – 13-0-1, 40pts
T-1. Tampa Bay Rowdies (2021) – 13-2-1, 40pts

TAMPA BAY’S CONNOR SPARROW REACHES 40 REGULAR SEASON SHUTOUTS


The Tampa Bay Rowdies' Connor Sparrow recorded his 40th regular season shutout against Loudoun United FC on Sept. 30. He is the sixth player to reach the landmark in league history. | Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic

The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Connor Sparrow became the sixth goalkeeper in the USL Championship’s history to record 40 regular season shutouts in the league as he posted clean sheets against both Hartford Athletic and Loudoun United FC in Week 30 of the regular season.

Sparrow reached the mark in his 120th regular season appearance in the league, making him the third-fastest player to reach the mark in league history. Former Charleston Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper recorded his 40th regular season shutout in his 107th appearance in the Championship’s regular season during the 2018 campaign, while current all-time shutouts leader Evan Newton reached the mark in his 118th appearance in the league in 2019.

Most Shutouts in USL Championship Regular Season History
1. Evan Newton – 58
2. Alex Tambakis – 44*
3. Brandon Miller – 43
4. Matt VanOekel – 42*
T-5. Odisnel Cooper – 40
T-5. Connor Sparrow – 40*

* - active player

SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC’S DA’VIAN KIMBROUGH BECOMES YOUNGEST DEBUTANT


Sacramento Republic FC's Da'vian Kimbrough became the youngest player in USL Championship regular season history on Sunday evening at Heart Health Park. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

Sacramento Republic FC’s Da’vian Kimbrough became the youngest player in USL Championship history on Sunday evening as a late substitute in his side’s 2-0 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC at Heart Health Park. At 13 years, 7 months and 13 days old, Kimbrough is just under two months younger than his predecessor, Axel Kei of Real Monarchs SLC.

With Kimbrough’s debut, four of the five youngest players to make their USL Championship debut in league history have competed for independent clubs. San Antonio FC’s Dalziel Ozuna was previously the youngest player to appear in the league this season, similarly as a late-game substitute against Monterey Bay F.C. on April 1. Notably, former El Paso Locomotive FC player Diego Garcia, a USL Academy signing two years ago, is currently with the United States U-17 Men’s National Team in Brazil for its final camp before November’s 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Youngest Player to Debut in a USL Championship Game
1. Da’vian Kimbrough (SAC) – 13 years, 7 months, 13 days vs. Las Vegas Lights FC, 10/1/23
2. Axel Kei (SLC) – 13 years, 9 months, 9 days vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, 10/8/21
3. Ansu Kanneh (PHX) – 14 years, 10 months, 2 days vs. LA Galaxy II, 10/3/20
4. Diego Garcia (ELP) – 15 years, 1 day vs. LA Galaxy II, 10/17/21
5. Dalziel Ozuna (SA) – 15 years, 27 days vs. Monterey Bay F.C., 4/1/23

PITTSBURGH’S FORBES ACHIEVES ASSISTS FIRST IN LEAGUE HISTORY


Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC's Kenardo Forbes became the first player to record double-digit assists in league history with his 10th helper of the season against FC Tulsa. | Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

The all-time leader in USL Championship regular season assists, Kenardo Forbes recorded his 10th helper of the 2023 season this past Saturday in Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s 3-2 victory against FC Tulsa. It marked the second consecutive season in which the Jamaican has recorded double-digit assists, making him the first player to do so in the league’s regular season history.

Three players have previously recorded multiple double-digit assists in a Championship regular season, but all in non-consecutive years – Danny Barrera (2016, 2021), Aodhan Quinn (2018, 2021), and Antoine Hoppenot (2018, 2022).

Overall, 25 players have recorded double-digit assists seasons. Forbes’ current co-leader for the league lead in Jorge Hernandez of San Antonio FC has joined the group this season, with the Charleston Battery’s Fidel Barajas in contention with nine assists currently this season and two games remaining.

Quick Hits
- Monterey Bay F.C.’s Alex Dixon became the eighth player in USL Championship history to reach 250 regular season appearances in the league’s history in his side’s contest against San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday night. Dixon also ranks 15th in league history with 60 regular season goals in his career.

- Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Albert Dikwa would become the 13th player in USL Championship history to record 20 goals in a regular season with his next goal this campaign. The Cameroonian currently leads the Championship Golden Boot race with 19 goals this season and two games to play.

- Phoenix Rising FC’s Rocco Rios Novo became the second-youngest goalkeeper in league history to record 100 saves in a regular season following his four-save performance against Orange County SC aged 21 years, 118 days old. Las Vegas Lights FC’s Alex Rando reached 100 saves in the 2021 season against Oakland Roots SC on October 2, 2021 aged 20 years, 170 days old, ending the season with 125 saves overall.

- The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Cal Jennings recorded his 48th regular season goal in the league on Saturday night against Loudoun United FC in his 88th regular season appearance as he continued his pursuit of becoming the fastest player to reach a half-century of goals in the Championship’s regular season history.

Upcoming Player Milestones


New Mexico United's Kalen Ryden could make his 200th regular season appearance in the league this Saturday against Phoenix Rising FC. | Photo courtesy Brandino / New Mexico United

Appearances
Approaching 200 regular-season appearances

Kalen Ryden (NM) – 199
Joe Farrell (PIT) – 198
Santi Moar (NM) – 197
Neco Brett (BHM) – 197

Approaching 150 regular-season appearances
Chris Wehan (NM) – 148
Bryam Rebellon (IND) – 148
Rodrigo Da Costa (MEM) – 147
Matt Sheldon (HFD) – 146
Will Seymore (NM) – 146
Albert Dikwa (PIT) – 146
Nick Hinds (ELP) – 146

Approaching 100 regular-season appearances
Yuma (ELP) – 99
Andrew Carleton (LV) – 99
Steven Echevarria (COS) – 99
Jake LaCava (TBR) – 99
Robert Coronado (RGV) – 99 
AJ Paterson (CHS) – 98
Connor Maloney (SA) – 98
James Murphy (MB) – 98
Drew Skundrich (COS) – 98
Kevin Partida (OC) – 97

Minutes
Approaching 15,000 regular season minutes

Antoine Hoppenot (HFD) – 14,998
Aaron Guillen (TBR) – 14,803

Approaching 10,000 regular season minutes
Jack Blake (IND) – 9,996
Tyler Pasher (BHM) – 9,921
Sam Hamilton (NM) – 9,712

Goals
Approaching 50 regular season goals

Wilson Harris (LOU) – 49
Lucky Mkosana (TBR) – 48
Cal Jennings (TBR) – 48

Assists
Approaching 50 regular season assists
Antoine Hoppenot (HFD) – 47

Approaching 40 regular season assists
Christiano Francois (RGV) – 37

Approaching 30 regular season assists
Charlie Adams (SD) – 29
Niall McCabe (LOU) – 27
Rodrigo Da Costa (MEM) – 27

Saves
Approaching 400 regular season saves

Matt VanOekel (BHM) – 389

Approaching 200 regular season saves
Tyler Deric (RGV) – 197
Christian Herrera (COS) – 196
Adrian Zendejas (MIA) – 191
Kyle Morton (LOU) – 187

Shutouts
Approaching 30 regular-season shutouts
Joe Kuzminsky (COS) – 29

Discipline Report – Week 31

TAMPA, Fla. – The following is the USL Championship’s discipline report for Week 31 of the 2023 USL Championship season:

Memphis 901 FC assistant coach Leandro Spinola has been suspended for six games following his red card for referee assault during the club’s contest against Birmingham Legion FC on September 30. Spinola will be suspended for the club’s remaining two games of the regular season against El Paso Locomotive FC on Saturday night and New Mexico United on October 13, with the remainder of the suspension to be served during the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs. Should Memphis be eliminated prior to the conclusion of the suspension, Spinola would serve the remaining games at the start of the 2024 USL Championship regular season.

San Antonio FC’s Jordan Farr has been suspended for one game following his red card for abusive language following the club’s contest against Oakland Roots SC on September 30. Farr will be unavailable for selection in San Antonio’s contest against Orange County SC on Saturday night.

Rio Grande Valley FC’s Frank Lopez has been suspended for one game following his red card for abusive language against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on September 30. Lopez will be unavailable for selection in Rio Grande Valley’s contest against Hartford Athletic on Wednesday night.

New Mexico United’s Shanyder Borgelin has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Louisville City FC on September 30. Borgelin will be unavailable for selection in New Mexico’s contest against Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday night.

New Mexico United’s Nicky Hernandez has been suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Louisville City FC on September 30. Hernandez will be unavailable for selection in New Mexico’s contest against Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday night.

San Antonio FC’s Jacori Hayes has been suspended for one game for caution accumulation following his eighth yellow card of the season against Oakland Roots SC on September 30. Hayes will be unavailable for selection in San Antonio’s contest against Orange County SC on Saturday night.

Detroit City FC’s Michael Bryant was suspended for one game following his red card for two cautionable offenses against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on September 27. Bryant served his suspension during Detroit’s contest against Indy Eleven on September 30.

The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a one-game yellow card accumulation suspension for their eighth yellow card of the season. Here is the breakdown per club:

  • Birmingham Legion FC (1) – Anderson Asiedu

  • Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1) – Deshane Beckford

  • El Paso Locomotive FC (2) – Eder Borelli, Liam Rose

  • Hartford Athletic (1) – Conor McGlynn

  • Indy Eleven (2) – Jack Blake, Douglas Martinez Jr.

  • Las Vegas Lights FC (1) – Andres Jimenez

  • Loudoun United FC (1) – Cole Turner

  • Louisville City FC (1) – Wesley Charpie

  • Monterey Bay F.C. (1) – Mobi Fehr

  • Oakland Roots SC (3) – Neveal Hackshaw, Napo Matsoso, Johnny Rodriguez

  • Orange County SC (1) – Markus Nakkim

  • Rio Grande Valley FC (1) – Taylor Davila

  • FC Tulsa (1) – Collin Fernandez

The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a two-game yellow card accumulation suspension for their 11th yellow card of the season. Here is the breakdown per club:

San Antonio FC (1) – Lamar Batista

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