This Friday’s clash between the Pittsburgh Riverhounds-Orlando City B will be the USL’s first-ever match on ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network. The April 22 contest is schedule for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Earlier this week, USL announced a partnership between the league and ESPN that will include 20 exclusive, live and in HD USL Game of the Week broadcasts throughout the season.
For the Hounds, this Friday’s matchup at Highmark Stadium will be the first of two consecutive matches on this platform. Their away contests vs Louisville City FC on Wednesday, April 27 will also air on the digital channel.
Working the broadcast booth for Friday’s tilt will be award-winning soccer announcer Michael Watts and Juan Arango. The duo will have the call for all 20 of the 2016 USL Games of the Week showings on ESPN3.
ESPN3 is ESPN’s 24/7 destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually and is accessible online via WatchESPN.com.
Fans unable to access ESPN3, the live broadcast can be found on the USL’s YouTube channel and also at Riverhounds.com.
USL WEEKLY HONORS / RECOGNITION
The Riverhounds’ Romeo Parks, was not included on the USL Team of the Week, but his late first half goal (and subsequent acrobatics celebration) in Pittsburgh’s 2-2 draw at Toronto FC II did make it to the USL Goals of the Week video montage (see below).
Parkes made a sparkling run through the center of the TFCII back line — and into the box after a give-and-go with Marshall Hollingsworth — and had a nice finish to help the Hounds draw even with the Baby Reds.
Hopefully for Pittsburgh soccer fans, they’ll get to see some more Parkes goals — and his flips in person at Highmark Stadium.
It may have been curious that Parkes, and TFCII’s Raheem Edwards both didn’t even get honorable mention in the USL’s weekly team awards, as both had strong games.
Chandler Hoffman earned USL Player of the Week for the fourth week of the 2016 season as he recorded a first-half hat trick in his side’s 3-2 victory against FC Cincinnati on Saturday. Hoffman is now in a tie for the league lead in goals with the LA Galaxy II’s Jack McBean.
The quick growth of the league to 29 teams that often feature 13 or 14 games on a given weekend — are probably making it more possible for many top notch performances to go unnoticed and get slighted.
Just a suggestion, but maybe in hindsight, they should have separate honors for Eastern/Western Conference teams/players.
CINCINNATI BREAKS ATTENDANCE RECORD
In its opener, FC Cincinnati had over 14,000 fans.
Last week, they topped that, and broke the USL all-time regular season attendance record with 20,497 on Saturday night at a very soccer-friendly Nippert Stadium.
I had to drive through Cincinnati on Friday night — and ran into a lot of the traffic as it was letting out, spilling over to I71 (on my way to Louisville).
San Antonio FC also sold out its first game, and set a Toyota Field soccer attendance record in the process at the four-year-old venue on April 9 as the city’s fans embraced their new team whole-heartedly.
Not to be out done, established USL clubs have also impressed in the early going. Both Saint Louis FC and Sacramento Republic FC enjoyed home-opener sellouts, while OKC Energy FC opened with a near-capacity crowd.
ANOTHER CREW PLAYER WITH THE HOUNDS
It was reported on Wednesday by DKonSports’ Alan Saunders, that Columbus Crew defender Chad Barson has been at Riverhounds trainings, including this week.
Barson has made 48 appearances for the Crew in the past four years but this season he has not played yet. A homegrown signing for the Crew in 2013, Barson played at University of Akron where he was a member of the 2010 NCAA National Champions.
But a few teams that the Hounds will see in the next few games had news from the league’s weekly discipline report.
Charleston Battery midfielder Zach Prince was issued a two-game suspension for a serious foul during Charleston’s 3-2 loss to the Charlotte Independence on Saturday. Prince will miss the Battery’s road match against Bethlehem Steel FC on Sunday and the April 30 home game against the Riverhounds.
Three players were issued one-game suspensions – Louisville City FC’s Sean Reynolds, Orlando City B’s Lewis Neal and Sacramento Republic FC’s Adam Jahn. Reynolds is suspended for Louisville’s road game against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Friday.
Neal will miss OCB’s road game against the Riverhounds on Friday.
Orlando’s Tony Rocha, who was sent off last week during the team’s match against the Harrisburg City Islanders, successfully appealed his red card and it has been rescinded by the league.
Rocha is an available option when Orlando visits Pittsburgh on Friday.
GAMES TO WATCH
Other than Riverhounds-OCB clash on Friday, here are some games to watch over the weekend in the Eastern Conference, as NY Red Bulls remain at the top and Louisville City, fresh off its 3-2 win at Cincinnati look to keep pace.
Friday, April 22
Louisville City FC at Harrisburg City Islanders
NY Red Bulls II at Wilmington Hammerheads
Richmond Kickers at Charlotte Independence
Saturday, April 23
FC Montreal at Rochester Rhinos
Sunday, April 24
Charleston Battery at Bethlehem Steel FC
FC Cincinnati at Toronto FC II