The United Soccer League (USL) released it’s weekly discipline report today — and while it wasn’t surprising news – it was not the kind of news that Pittsburgh Riverhounds and their fans wanted to see as they prepare for an important clash with a team that they are battling with for playoff positioning in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
Defender Willie Hunt, midfielder Danny Earls along with coaches Mark Steffens and Niko Katic, will be sitting out this week’s July 4th match vs NY Red Bulls II at Highmark Stadium.
The suspensions were handed down as a result of bookings during the Riverhounds 1-0 loss at Rochester. Earls, the team’s captain, was cautioned after a hard tackle, resulting in his fifth yellow of the season. According to USL rules, an accumulation of five cautions results in a one-game suspension.
Head coach Mark Steffens and assistant coach Niko Katic were also sent off during that match, following a play that awarded a penalty kick to Rochester. Neither coach will be on the sidelines against NYRBII. This will likely leave the head coaching duties for the Fourth of July match to Josh Rife.
It’s the second suspension of the season for Earls, who received a red card in the match against Charlotte on June 13 for a blatant hand ball that saved a sure goal.
When Earls sat out during the Riverhounds home win against FC Montreal, Arena wore the captain’s arm band in leading Pittsburgh to a 1-0 win, their first shutout win of the league season.
Arena, who will likely take Earl’s place as team captain on Saturday, also has a notorious spot on the USL Discipline Report, and is on the list along with 14 other players across the league who have been issued four yellow cards thus far this season and are one away from serving suspensions for yellow card accumulation.
The match on Saturday will kickoff at 7 p.m. The Riverhounds (5-5-4, 19 points) take on a red-hot team named for the fizzy drink in the Red Bull II (6-5-4, 22 points) who have won three straight road games. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to ensure that they can get adequate parking and are also invited to stay to watch the City of Pittsburgh’s Fireworks display after the game.