August 10, 2017 - United Soccer League (USL) - Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PITTSBURGH (August 9, 2017) - The Pittsburgh Riverhounds Development Academy (RDA) has announced two members from its boy's side, Austin Rocke of the 02 Boys and Cameron Hernandez of the 05 Boys, have officially signed with Columbus Crew SC Academy for the 2017-18 US Development Academy season.
On the heels of the recent partnership announcement between the RDA and Crew SC Academy, Rocke and Hernandez are the first two players from the Hounds youth system to have taken steps to secure spots on the US Development Academy rosters for its MLS affiliate.
"This move for Austin and Cameron exemplifies our joint efforts to offer resources to two talented and hard-working players who have demonstrated the ability to advance in the game," Riverhounds Sporting Director Jason Kutney said.
Rocke, taking advantage of the co-development platform brokered between RDA and Crew SC Academy, will remain with RDA for a portion of his annual training load while rostering as a full-time development academy player with Crew SC Academy. This move will strike a healthy balance for the player and family, limiting weekly travel between Pittsburgh and Columbus while maintaining an active relationship with both clubs through his high school years.
Rocke originally joined the RDA program in 2016 in effort to secure more direct access to the higher levels of the game.
"From the first day I worked with Austin in Illinois, he showed the resilience, competitive edge, tireless work rate, and talent to be a top level player in this country. He has been prepared for the next step and the challenges associated with playing against the best competition in the country, and we are thrilled for him to join Columbus Crew SC," said Academy coach Niko Katic, who played soccer under head coach Oz Bakirdan at Illinois Central College and later paired with Bakirdan to help Rocke in his path to the RDA.
Hernandez originally joined RDA when he was 3 years old as a member of its Futures Academy. Now the Hernandez family will move from Pittsburgh to live in Columbus on a full-time basis, offering Cameron total access to Crew SC Academy training and resources. Recently, the young midfielder participated on the Crew SC Academy Under-12 side at the MLS Generation Adidas Cup in Dallas.
"Over the past few years Cameron has stood out from the pack, on a consistent basis he has shown the technical ability and desire to play at a higher level," said Dave Nicholas, head coach of the 05 Boys. " Now its time for Cam to make this step and join a high quality Development Academy and be put outside his comfort zone to further his game."
Over the course of this past year, RDA sent various groups of players to Columbus for training opportunities while also hosting Crew SC Academy General Manager Dennis Sanchez in Pittsburgh for further player evaluations. Rocke and Hernandez were among a group of RDA players spotlighted for future tracking.
"There are many good players in western Pennsylvania that just need a chance to be seen," Kutney said. "The goal here is to work together with local soccer leaders at the grassroots level to stimulate a quality training environment that also offers visibility. That may lead to opportunities like we see with Austin and Cameron or it may just lead to players having fun and getting better, and both are great end results."