Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Arturo Ordóñez was announced on Tuesday as the 2023 USL Championship Defender of the Year, with the Spanish center back earning the honor after a standout season in which he anchored the best back line in the Championship’s Eastern Conference while also contributing to the side in the attacking third.
A native of Salou, Spain, Ordóñez had a standout second season for the Hounds. He ranked second in the league with 106 aerial duels won at a success rate of 75.7 percent and also made 239 recoveries, also good for second among outfield players. Overall, he won 63.7 percent of duels and 69.6 percent of tackles and also scored five goals, including the insurance marker in the Hounds’ 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies that clinched the Players’ Shield for the club’s first silverware in the USL Championship era.
“I'm really, really happy to get an award like this in a league with the amount of talent and good players that are in the USL Championship,” said Ordóñez. “I also want to thank all my teammates. They were all so important and made my job easier, and I want to thank the Riverhounds’ coaches for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play.”
The 26-year-old competed in the lower divisions of Spanish soccer for Pobla de Mafumet and on loan with Castelldefels before making the move across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. Twice voted to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-League Team and the ACC All-Tournament Team, Ordóñez remained in Pittsburgh to turn pro with the Hounds before the 2022 season.
Over the past two seasons, he has recorded 66 appearances – second only to fellow 2023 All-League selection Kenardo Forbes for the Hounds – and leads the club with 262 clearances, 354 duels won overall, and 216 aerial duels won.
Ordóñez received 45 percent of the ballot to earn the award. Sacramento Republic FC’s Jack Gurr finishes second on 40 percent after recording five goals and six assists in a sterling two-way campaign for the top side in the Western Conference, while Gurr’s Republic FC teammate Conor Donovan finished third on 14 percent.
The 2023 USL Championship Awards were voted on by club management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market.