Pittsburgh Riverhounds (1-1-2, 5 pts) vs Toronto FC 2 (1-2-1, 4 pts)
Saturday, April 25 – 7 p.m. Kickoff
Riverhounds, coming off a disappointing tie with Louisville will look to get three points against one of the younger, new expansion teams.
About Toronto FC II (TFCII)
(Expansion USL team)
Affiliate – Toronto FC (Major League Soccer)
Head Coach – Jason Bent
Last Game – coming off a pretty wild 1-1 draw in match with Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps II last weekend, as both teams finished the game playing with 10 men due to ejections. TFCII’s Mark-Anthony Kaye received a red card, and will have to sit out today’s game in Pittsburgh.
Yeah, hockey season may be over, but there will be a strong Canadian flavor in Pittsburgh on Saturday, as Toronto FC II, with their mostly home-grown roster will meet up with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium.
The Riverhounds also feature a few players from Canada, including Tyler Pasher and Miro Cabilo, who are familiar with a lot of players on TFCII’s squad. Both Pasher and Cabilo will be in contention to earn playing time tonight for the Hounds.
Pasher, who has made two appearances for the Hounds thus far, is a former TFC Academy player, who made a bit of a splash when playing with the TFC senior team in a friendly against Liverpool FC in Toronto in 2012 when he was just 17. (http://www.rednationonline.ca/MatchReports2012/TFCandLiverpooldrawinRogersCentreFriendly.aspx)
In recent years, the Riverhounds have had success against their opponents from north of the border, as they played Toronto FC’s Reserves team, both at BMO Field and at Highmark Stadium in 2013. Settling for a 1-1 draw in Pittsburgh, but winning 1-0 in Toronto in the return match.
But tonight, on the field, it’s a pretty pivotal game early in the USL season. The teams are separated by one point in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
The Riverhounds are likely to be a bit anxious to get this game on — eager to rid the bad taste of losing a 1-0 lead in stoppage time against Louisville on Sunday. Toronto held their own at Vancouver last week, and played well in season opening loss at Charleston. But the young team has only one win in their first four matches, and that was against the last-place Montreal Impact II team that has yet to earn a point.
Looking at the injury reports being provided by the Hounds, defender Fejiro Okiomah is doubtful for the game after straining his quad muscle twice in the past two weeks. Defender Drew Russell and forward Max Touloute will definitely miss Saturday’s game as they both recover from knee injuries.
Good news for Riverhounds fans is that we might get the first look of the season at Matt Dallman. The 2013 top USL assist man was in full training in the past week, and was available on the bench on Sunday’s match against Louisville.
MORE ABOUT TORONTO FC II
After this weekend, Toronto is the remaining USL team to have not played a home game. TFC II is in the midst of an eight-game road trip before it hosts the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, May 23.
First look at the Toronto’s roster is that there’s a lot of young, home-grown, Canadian-born players, who’ve trained and played for their Academy and Reserves teams in the past.
One that the Riverhounds die-hard fans might remember is goalkeeper Quillin Roberts, who is on loan from the senior club. Roberts played in 2014 for Wilmington Hammerheads (also then on loan from TFC). If you recall, Roberts was the keeper in net, in a wild 4-3 Wilmington win in the 2014 Riverhounds home opener. Roberts was also in the net for the Riverhounds clashes with Toronto FC reserves in 2013. (http://www.pittsburghsportsreport.com/PSR/node/6560)
Roberts, like the Riverhounds’ Tyler Pasher, a former TFC Academy and reserve player, was a recent Canadian senior men’s team call-up, who saw some playing time as a substitute against Puerto Rico in late March.
The team features four players on loan from the senior club, including Alex Bono (also a goalkeeper), Chris Mannella, Manny Aparicio – along with Roberts.
A player to watch might be forward Mo Babouli, who has a goal and an assist, and has logged the most minutes for TFCII thus far this season.
Today’s match also features two of CONCACAF Senior National Team goalkeepers in Roberts (Canada) and the Riverhounds’ Ryan Thompson (Jamaica).
Here’s what Riverhounds Head Coach Mark Steffens had to say about their opponents from the North:
“They’re a very dangerous team with two good strikers,” said Riverhounds head coach Mark Steffens. “A lot will depend on the players they bring with them, whether it’s guys with first team experience or Academy kids.”