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Riverhounds’ new assistant coach carries recognizable name

January 6, 2018

Riverhounds coach Bob Lilley is bringing in a longtime friend and former teammate onto his staff, and the new hire has a very recognizable name.

Mark Pulisic, the father of 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund and U.S. National Team breakout star Christian Pulisic, has been hired as one of Lilley’s assistant coaches for 2018, the Riverhounds announced Friday.

The elder Pulisic was an assistant for Lilley last season with the Rochester Rhinos, and the two go all the way back to their college days when they were teammates at George Mason. Pulisic also was a head coach at NCAA Division III Lebanon Valley College, and he and Lilley had stints together on pro team staffs before reuniting in Rochester.

“After entertaining a few other coaching opportunities for the upcoming season, knowing what Bob brings to a club, and deciding where I would feel most comfortable, Pittsburgh seems like the perfect fit,” Pulisic said in a team statement. “I look forward to helping the Riverhounds find success in 2018, as Bob and I strive to bring a championship to the city.”

While Pulisic’s credentials stand alone, it’s the name recognition of his son that will draw the most attention.

Christian Pulisic was signed by Dortmund as a 16-year-old living in Hershey, and his father moved with him to Germany, taking a job in the club’s youth academy. In the three years since, he has become the face of U.S. Soccer, becoming the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, the youngest American to score in a World Cup qualifier and the 2017 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year.

But Lilley isn’t interested in the attention that comes with the Pulisic name. Instead, he now has an assistant with whom he has a long working relationship and a good rapport.

“Mark will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our staff,” Lilley said. “He also understands all the small details that are necessary, on and off the field, that help players develop and teams be successful. We are very fortunate to have him join us in Pittsburgh for the 2018 season.”

The Riverhounds’ announcement also confirmed that assistant Dan Visser and goalkeeping coach Hunter Gilstrap will return for 2018.

Visser came to the club as an assistant to previous coach Dave Brandt after playing for Brandt at Division III Messiah and coaching at multiple colleges, including a season at Navy under Brandt.

Gilstrap began coaching the team’s goalies last season after retiring as a player with the club in 2016. His 111 appearances are second among goalies in team history.

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.