Pittsburgh Riverhounds (0-1-0, 0 points) at Toronto FC II (1-0-1, 4 points)
RIVERHOUNDS GAMEDAY PREVIEW LINK
Sunday, April 17 – 4 p.m.
Ontario Soccer Centre
Live Feed – http://www.Riverhounds.com
WHAT’S AT STAKE / KEY STORYLINES
As the other teams in the USL’s Eastern Conference have already played three or even four games, this will only be the Riverhounds second match of the season.
“Nine weeks with one meaningful game has been hard on the guys. They’re chomping at the bit to get out there and compete” – Head Coach Mark Steffens
For the Hounds, it will be an opportunity to pick up three road points as they take on a team that they owned in 2015, going 3-0 vs Toronto.
The young TFCII squad is very similar to last year’s team, with lots of homegrown Canadian players, who have been able to get off to a promising, unbeaten start after two road games. TFCII tied a strong NY Red Bulls II team, then defeated Canadian rivals FC Montreal last week. It’s a typical young MLS second team squad that is filled with youth, including 16, 17 and 18 year-olds on the roster who have played minutes thus far this season.
The Hounds will be without two of their key returning players, team captain Kevin Kerr, who is ineligible to travel to Canada as he’s in the process of getting his green card, and most likely play-making attacking midfielder Lebo Moloto, who was listed as doubtful (Hip Flexor).
In addition, the Hounds have a few current players, Jordan Murrell and DuWayne Euwart returning to play in their home country and area where they grew up.
ABOUT TORONTO FC II
What a way to score your first professional goal.
Last week, a minute after being substituted, Malik Johnson scored a Messi-esque solo goal in the 2-1 victory on the weekend, tearing through the Montreal midfield and backline before rounding the keeper and slotting it home.
“I mean that’s a world class goal. We couldn’t ask much more from a player entering the game,” said Jason Bent, Toronto FC II coach. “It was a huge boost for the team and gave us a platform to go on and win the three points.”
Also making a positive impact through the first two matches of the season has been 17-year-old midfielder Aidan Daniels. His name hasn’t appeared on the score sheet, but Daniels has been a calming presence and has adapted well in midfield in a 4-3-3 formation since his call-up from the Kia Toronto FC Academy to begin the season.
Raheem Edwards scored the game-winning goal with six minutes to go, and was named to the USL Team of the Week for a strong all-around performance.
Defenders Eriq Zavaleta and Nick Hagglund have joined TFC II on loan from the club’s MLS team ahead of Sunday’s game.
Toronto FC II will play four of its next five games at home starting Sunday, with FC Cincinnati, Louisville City FC and the Richmond Kickers also set to visit the OSC.
Making his TFC II and USL debut against FC Montreal was 16-year-old Shaan Hundal who was called-up from the Kia TFC Academy only a few days prior.
Bent was quite content with what he saw in the young striker against their rivals.
“We’ve always tested young players and that’s the purpose of this team. He’s been doing well with the Pod 1 and [did well] at the Generation adidas Cup,” said Bent. “I thought he did well for a 16-year-old in his professional debut. We see some positive things from him.”
RIVERHOUNDS GAME DAY PREVIEW LINK
For a complete look at the Riverhounds — you can read my Riverhounds 3-part Season Preview here on Pittsburgh Soccer Report.