The Vortex Insider

Louie, Louie Keeps the Ball Rolling in Pittsburgh

Vortex star shines brightly in the Steel City

How ironic is this…a Cleveland native is helping a Pittsburgh team push for the playoffs?

Defender Louis Rolko has made his name known throughout the USL-2 this year with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a team that will soon qualify for the playoffs, but still is jumbled for the last two playoff spots.

“I did catch a little slack for being from Cleveland,” Louis joked about playing in a city that Clevelanders generally do not like. “When we go out to camps I usually tell people my name and that ‘I am from the greatest city in the world.’ Then all the kids ask what city I am from and when I say Cleveland they start booing.”

All joking aside, ‘Louie’ (as he is better known by) has represented his city well with the Riverhounds, as he is a part of a special breed of defenders that hail from Northeast Ohio (Dasan Robinson of the Chicago Fire and Barry Rice of D.C. United).

When asked why Cleveland had done so well, the defender said, “I think there is a good level of coaching there. Growing up I think I was very lucky to have coaches with World Cup and professional experience. Foreign coaches especially gave their insight to the game and that has been very beneficial to us.”

Rolko added that playing with different nationalities adds flavor and competition that players may not get at another place. “I think that is unique to our area.”

Cleveland has seen her players play in different levels of soccer throughout the country, but without a team of her own, one may wonder if Cleveland can continue to give the game the great players like it has. Rolko disagrees and adds, “I think the quality (of players) is there, even the college programs in the area will help put good players out there even though they are lacking that next level.”

Like most other athletes in the country, Louis had to choose the sport that fitted him best, “When I was 10 I played baseball, basketball, football and soccer. Football was first to go because it was the biggest conflict with soccer, then basketball went because it wasn’t fun, and then baseball went because of the time commitment.”

Louie points out that he had to give all to his commitments. “It was almost impossible and unfair to the other players on my team in the other sports because I was not always going to be there, and I had to have a full commitment in one sport.”

Not only has Louis committed to several different teams in his career, but he has spent time indoors, recently with the Ohio Vortex, of the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL). “Playing with the Vortex was different,” he said. “Nobody really teaches you how to play indoor soccer, so there was a big adjustment and a big change. I think we were lucky to have Denzil (Antonio) as our coach, since he has a wealth of indoor experience. I think it was a good experience and I really look forward to playing with those guys again.”

Louis is surrounded, in Pittsburgh, by another Cleveland native, “I did not know Jeremy (Deighton), of Broadview Heights, until I met him here. We have gotten to know each other and we live together, so it’s cool getting to play with somebody from Cleveland. When we go back (to Cleveland in the offseason), we’ll probably train with each other.”

Now these two Clevelanders will be searching for a USL-2 crown, no matter how big of a rivalry Cleveland and Pittsburgh have.

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