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Riverhounds introduce new president and head coach

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The Pittsburgh Riverhounds took a few big steps toward getting their house in order today, with the announcement of a new president and head coach.

In addition, it was also learned that they will not be affiliating with a Major League Soccer franchise in 2015.

At Highmark Stadium this afternoon, Riverhounds owner, Tuffy Shallenburger introduced Richard Nightingale as the team's newly appointed President, and Mark Steffens was announced at the franchise's eighth coach in their 16-year existence.

"I am very aware the responsibilities before us, of the challenges that we face," said Nightingale, a long-time sports executive, who worked for Nike, Inc., for over 15 years, along with other sports ventures.  

Nightingale, a native of England, shared that he's never been more excited about a challenge as he takes over operations of both the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Professional Team, and Highmark Stadium. 

"I look forward to the opportunity of helping the Pittsburgh Riverhounds get to the next level of success. Tremendous work has gone into getting the team where they are now, in one of the best soccer stadiums in the country, and now we're ready to move forward. We are assembling a strong team both in the front office and on the field," said Nightingale.

The new hires come a little more than a month after the Riverhounds' proposed reorganization plan was officially approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery A. Deller, which placed Shallenberger into position as the sole owner of both the team and operations of Highmark Stadium.

Nightingale's first order of business: hiring a new coach. 

Steffens brings impressive credentials to Pittsburgh, including an 18-year run as the Head Coach of the Charlotte Eagles, of USL PRO, leading them to the finals nine times.  The Syosset, N.Y. native holds two championship wins, was named USL Coach of the Year twice, in 2004 and 2008. He is also a USL Hall of Fame Inductee. He also played professionally in the 1970s and early 1980s, and was an assistant coach with the New York Arrows of the now defuct Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL).  

"I like the quote, 'one is too small of a number to achieve.' You can't do it alone. You need a good team around you," said Steffens.

"And here in Pittsburgh, after meeting everyone, seeing what a fantastic facility that is here, this is the right place. I see great things happening here in the next few years."  

When asked about the possibility of rebuilding, Steffens, who found success with one of the smallest payrolls annually at Charlotte, pointed out that it's not something he likes to hear. 

"It (rebuilding), means that we must be bad.  I believe we have good players already, and we will build a strong team.  I am excited to get started!" exclaimed Steffens. 

According to Jason Kutney, who under the new management structure, has been appointed as the organization's Sporting Director, the Riverhounds still have six players under contract for 2015, and are looking to retain a few more. 

Among those players include:  Seth C'deBaca, Matt Dallman, Mike Green, Sterling Flunder and Rob Vincent, who were all present at today's press conference.

Neither Kutney nor any of the other team representatives would speculate on any other players by name.  

Another topic Nightingale addressed was affiliation. Last season, the Riverhounds entered into an affiliation with Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer (MLS), to mixed results.  Five players went back and forth throughout the season between Pittsburgh and Houston -- as both clubs dealt with a variety of injuries and roster instability.     

"We are not going to have an affiliation this year," responded Nightingale. 

"We are going to put fate in our own hands.  It doesn't make sense to continue in this partnership when some players statuses would be uncertain at times," said Nightingale.    

Nightingale said that the Riverhounds will go in this direction without affiliation, even as USL PRO expands dramatically in partnership wPittsburgh Riverhounds John Steffensith MLS -- who have mandated that all of their franchises develop their own USL PRO teams, or partner with an existing team by 2016. 

"This will put us in the best position to be successful. We want to win. We want this to be a place that every opponent that plays against us will come away saying that's the hardest game we've had to play," said Nightingale. 

Kutney also announced that Niko Katic, who stepped into the role as interim Head Coach halfway through the 2014 campaign after Justin Evans was relieved of his duties, will be assistant coach to Steffens.

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