You could make the case that they are the most dangerous team in the USL’s Eastern Conference right now. They started off the season with a mostly impressive run of results relying on their strong defense. But as the season has gone on, they’ve also become a potent scoring team.
James O’Connor’s team overtook Pittsburgh as the USL’s top scorers last weekend with a 3-1 win over the Charleston Battery. Louisville has found the net 48 times in 23 games with the Riverhounds scoring one fewer. Former Hound Matt Fondy scored twice against Charleston to bring his season tally to an Eastern Conference leading 18 goals, one ahead of Pittsburgh midfielder Rob Vincent.
Pittsburgh captain Danny Earls misses this week’s trip after his late dismissal in Charlotte last weekend. Head coach Mark Steffens has an otherwise full roster to select his traveling party from, with one big exception. Earls’ fellow holding midfield mate, Stephen Okai, will be sitting out due to a leg injury.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It’s been the same old story for the Riverhounds when facing the tougher defensive units in the USL. Their usually dangerous attack has been slowed down to the tune of an 0-6-2 record against the top defensive teams. I wrote about this earlier in the week, outlining the Hounds difficulties against the top defensive teams.
Add to that the loss of both Okai and Earls, who are steady, unsung contributors in the center of the field, and the Hounds have their work cut out for them at Louisville. Chances are that Steffens moves Vincent in to the middle and could likely start their newest pick up Ben Newnam to play one of those holding midfield spots.
The Hounds will have to figure out a way to contain former Hound Matt Fondy, who’s been on a tear of late.
“Good players will always find ways to be dangerous,” said Riverhounds assistant coach Josh Rife.
“Our goal is to limit Fondy’s opportunities and force situations that are difficult for him and favorable to us.
“We’re up to the task.”
The Hounds return home Sept. 5 when the Charleston Battery visit Highmark Stadium for what promises to be another tense battle for playoff positioning. Charleston won 3-1 in this season’s only previous meeting in South Carolina on May 9