Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Preview – Second Round
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL) vs West Virginia Chaos (PDL)
How Chaos Got Here…
The Chaos won their first round match in the first U.S. Open Cup game ever played in the state of West Virginia, last Wednesday, as Daniel Smee’s header from a corner kick in the fifth minute was all they needed to hold off the Fort Pitt Regiment, 1-0 at Schoenbaum Stadium in Charleston. It was the first Open Cup match ever for both clubs, as the Chaos denied a potential all-Pittsburgh match between the Riverhounds and Regiment.
The Chaos come into the match on a bit of a roll, as they followed up their first ever Open Cup win, by defeating the Derby City Rovers 3-0 in their opening Premier Developmental League (PDL) match on Saturday night, as former University of Charleston standout Dion Peters had a hat trick.
What to Expect…
This is a match between a team that the Riverhounds U23/PDL team will be playing later this season. For all intents, they should be able to handle an opponent made up of mostly current and recent college players. In fact, the Fort Pitt Regiment had controlled possession in their match with West Virginia, but were not able to convert.
It will be interesting to see if Riverhounds Head Coach, Mark Steffens goes with some different faces in the line-up. There are some younger players we have not seen that much of early in the season, including Kene Eze, Max Touloute and Anthony Virgara, that could make their way on the field tonight.
The Riverhounds have two former Chaos players on their roster, current USL’s leading goal scorer Rob Vincent and Sterling Flunder, who leads all active Riverhounds players with 112 appearances. Vincent, in his third year with the Riverhounds, has flourished under new coach Mark Steffens’s system. The Liverpool, England native and a former University of Charleston standout leads the USL in points per game (2.0 ppg. through eight games), and is second in goals (6), and tied for third in assists (4).
The Riverhounds have been 3-0 in Open Cup play at their new home, Highmark Stadium, a 3,500 seat soccer-specific facility, opened in 2013. The Hounds were eliminated after three game run from the Open Cup in 2014 by Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, 2-1, in a weather delayed and shortened match at Toyota Park last June.
Riverhounds center back Anthony Arena, who scored his first goal of the seasonin a 1-1 draw against the Richmond Kickers Saturday night, said they are not taking the Chaos lightly as the Hounds (2-3-3 in USL play) begin a busy schedule that includes both league and Open Cup games.
“We know they’re going to come here and give us a fight. It’s all about preparing in the days between games. We’ll be ready,” said Arena.
Wednesday’s winner will progress to face North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies in the third round on May 27. If the Hounds win, they will host that game.
Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, defender Fejiro Okiomah and midfielder Seth C’deBaca remain sidelined for the Hounds with their respective back, hamstring and knee injuries.
Brazilian forward Vini Dantas is also unavailable for midweek action after suffering a pulled groin.
Rookie Nick Kolarac is rated probable as he recovers from a knee problem.