Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds made their first additions of the offseason on Friday as they announced the signings of midfielder Christiano François and defender Raymond Lee to one-year deals with a club option for the 2019 season. The signings are pending league and federation approval.
Both players join the Hounds after spending the 2017 season with Eastern Conference rival Rochester Rhinos. François led the Rhinos with six assists as an attacking winger despite playing in only 12 games due to injury, while Lee appeared in 14 matches, primarily at left back.
A former standout at the University of Maryland and in the PDL, François was claimed by MLS side D.C. United before being sent on loan to the Richmond Kickers to begin his professional. François made 10 appearances for Richmond, making his professional debut on April 5 in a match against the Hounds. In addition to his six assists for the Rhinos last season, the 24-year-old native of Haiti recorded one goal and 29 key passes over the season.
“We’re expecting big things from Christiano,” said Riverhounds Head Coach Bob Lilley said. “He’s a special athlete because he has that rare combination of breakaway speed and endurance. He’s very capable of running at players and causing chaos in the attacking end, while also doing his share of work on the defensive side of the ball.”
Lee arrives with experience at both the MLS and USL levels, having begun his career with the Philadelphia Union after being selected in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. After a season with Tulsa Roughnecks FC in 2016, Lee recorded 22 interceptions and won 19 of 25 tackles for the Rhinos this past season in helping the club post the best defensive record in the Eastern Conference
“Ray is someone I felt had a strong season with me at Rochester this past year,” Lilley said. “He’s an exceptional passer for a left back, likes to go forward and is very effective in the defensive end, especially in 1v1 situations.”