Pittsburgh Riverhounds (5-4-4, 19 points) at Rochester Rhinos (8-0-5, 29 points)
Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester, NY
Saturday, June 27, at 7 p.m.
ROCHESTER RHINOS — A SECOND GLANCE
Christian Volesky leads the Rhinos’ offense with five goals and one assist. Cape Verdean forward Steevan Dos Santos follows with four goals for Bob Lilley‘s side.
Rochester kept their unbeaten string in 2015 going with a come-from-behind 1-1 draw at Harrisburg last Friday.
The Rhinos are one game away from matching the club’s record unbeaten stretch. The 13-game performance (8-0-5) this season trails only the 14-game (14-0-0) start to Rochester’s 1998 A-League campaign. The Rhinos had a close call last week and needed a Christian Volesky equalizer in the 87th minute to draw 1-1 against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
Another mark that will be put to the test is Rochester’s perfect 4-0-0 record at Sahlen’s Stadium. The Rhinos feature the USL’s top goalkeeper Brandon Miller (three goals allowed in nine games).
RECENT HISTORY BETWEEN THE TEAMS
Saturday’s clash is the second of three meetings between the teams during this year’s regular season. Rochester eked out a controversial 2-1 win at Highmark Stadium on April 4 thanks to Alex Dixon’s second half volley after a hard collision between Rob Vincent and Mike Garzi. Tony Walls scored for the Rhinos on a pinpoint free kick in the first half, and Max Touloute‘s chip over Miller provided the equalizer in the early stages of the second half.
Pittsburgh did get the better of the series between regional rivals last year – going 2-1. This included the last time the Riverhounds visited Rochester, stunning the Rhinos, 3-2, for their first-win ever at Sahlan’s Stadium in 19 tries and 15 years.
The USL’s top defense (Rochester) vs the USL’s top offense (Pittsburgh).
The Riverhounds will try to do what no one else has been able to do this season –and that’s beat the Rhinos outright.
Pittsburgh (5-4-4, 19 points) returned to winning ways last week with a 1-0 victory over F.C. Montreal at Highmark Stadium. Kevin Kerr‘s late goal maintained the Hounds’ record of scoring in every game this year. Pittsburgh has the most lethal offensive duo in the USL with Vincent (nine goals, four assists) and Kerr (six goals, five assists) leading the way. That offensive power will be required against the stingiest defense in the league Saturday. Rochester has given up five goals this year, seven fewer than the second best record held by Louisville City F.C.
The Hounds will have support in Rochester with about 50 Steel Army members making the 570-mile round trip to Sahlen’s Stadium.
Rookie forward Amara Soumah is available after missing two league games with a twisted ankle. Matt Dallman is also close to full fitness after tweaking a hip flexor.
South African playmaker Lebo Moloto will likely miss the trip north as he continues to recover from a strained left hamstring.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Riverhounds really struggled to develop any kind of possession through the middle of the field, on the ground in their first meeting with the Rhinos, especially in the first half when their attack was non-existent. They had a bit a of an early surge in the second half when they brought in some subs.
The Riverhounds three goals in last year’s upset at Rochester came from set pieces and a penalty kick. They will have to be just as opportunistic again to have a solid chance to beat the league’s stingiest unit.
Hounds captain Danny Earls is available to face his former side after serving a one-game suspension following his dismissal for deliberate handball against the Charlotte Independence on June 13.
Jamaican national team goalkeeper Ryan Thompson is also in contention for a start after briefly returning to Pittsburgh between his country’s Copa America and Gold Cup campaigns.
Fans in Pittsburgh can watch the action live at Riverhounds.com.
Pittsburgh Soccer Report’s John Krysinsky will be riding along with the Army, and will provide updates throughout the day and evening on Twitter @johnkrysinsky leading up to, during the game and after the final whistle.