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#PghSoccer Notebook: Hounds Scrimmage Crew; USMNT Look For Redemption; USL Kicks Off 2016   

 

HOUNDS SCRIMMAGED COLUMBUS CREW ON FRIDAY

While much of the USL began play this past weekend, with an extra week to prepare for their league opener, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds took a road trip to Columbus to scrimmage its MLS partners.   The result was 2-0 loss.
Some of the details of the scrimmage were covered by Massive Report’s Pat Murphy

There wasn’t much on the Hounds performance except that they were under pressure for long stretches of the match as Columbus went with a 3-5-2 formation. Also, Ben Swanson, who is on loan to Pittsburgh from Columbus, actually played with the Crew.  Marshall Hollingsworth, also on loan from the Crew, played left outside MF for the Hounds.
The Hounds have stumbled a bit in the final weeks of preseason, losing to both Michigan, and Akron in previous weeks.  However, a scrimmage against the Crew at least provides some strong competition against another pro team, as all of their preseason matches to that point were against College teams.
Following the action, Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter did mention the possibility of additional scrimmages with Pittsburgh could happen if schedules work out at other points in the future.

The Riverhounds are planning a Media Day on Thursday at Highmark Stadium in advance of their Saturday season opener against the USL defending champions, Rochester Rhinos.

The Rhinos wrapped up their preseason this past weekend with a 1-0 victory over Syracuse University’s men’s team.

USMNT LOOKING FOR REDEMPTION IN COLUMBUS AFTER LOSS 

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When it comes to having World Cup qualifying matches being played close to our backyard here in Pittsburgh — Columbus would be the best place for soccer fans in Western PA to catch a qualifier.
With that in mind, I’ll be making the drive to to MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Tuesday to cover the U.S. Men’s National Team — and see if they can get back on track after the 2-0 loss on Friday at Guatemala, in a return match of a home-and-home swing of World Cup 2018 Qualifying.
If you missed the U.S. loss on Friday, here are the highlights:

 
After Friday’s somewhat embarrassing loss, is it time for U.S. Soccer fans to panic?
I’d say not quite yet.   The result on Friday was not good.   Some of the defending and organization was questionable, especially in set pieces.
But still, there’s no reason why the U.S. shouldn’t take care of business as they are halfway through CONCACAF’s Semifinal Qualifying round.   With home games remaining vs Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago, and away to St. Vincent & the Grenadines, anywhere from seven to nine points would all but assure the USMNT of moving on to Final World Cup Qualifying Round.
In a few roster moves this weekend, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann  added 17-year-old Christian Pulisic from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, and Graham Zusi from Sporting Kansas City.
This is the first call-up for Pulisic, who missed the game against Guatemala in Guatemala City because of an ear infection.
Zusi, who has earned 32 caps, last appeared for the USA in the third-place match of the 2015 Gold Cup.
Injured Fabian Johnson has returned to Borussia Moenchengladbach for further treatment on a groin injury suffered prior to his arrival into camp. Matt Besler returned to Kansas City after sustaining a concussion in training last Thursday.
Guatemala will be without star Carlos Ruiz, who is unable to leave Guatemala for legal reasons.
I’ll have more — with match preview on Tuesday morning.
 

USL OPENING WEEKEND:  WHAT WE LEARNED?  

Of the 14 teams in the USL’s Eastern Conference, 12 teams started their season’s on Friday and Saturday, with two exceptions, Pittsburgh and Rochester, who will open on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
Here are the Eastern Conference results from the past weekend.
Bethlehem Steel               1             FC Montreal        0
Toronto FC II                     2             NY Red Bulls II    2
Louisville City                   1             Charlotte           0
Richmond                           3             Harrisburg           1
Charleston                         1             FC Cincinnati       0
Wilmington                        2             Orlando City B    1
What did we learn from these results?
I would say it’s way, way too early in the season to really tell, but the “Old Guard” USL franchises are off to good starts.
Richmond, Charleston and Wilmington each won while Harrisburg loss was to Richmond.   The teams making their USL debut had mixed results, FC Cincinnati and Orlando City B both lost, but Bethlehem Steel won at FC Montreal thanks for a Fabian Herbers goal in the 43rd minute.

USL GOAL OF THE WEEKEND

With the scoreless draw almost certain, Louisville City’s Cameron Lancaster drilled this free kick to top Charlotte in the dying seconds.

 
 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, and more. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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