Kevin Kerr and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds were upset at home in U.S. Open Cup’s 2nd Round on Wednesday (Photo Courtesy of Chris Cowger/Riverhounds)
PITTSBURGH, PA – Lansdowne Bhoys FC continue to make the most of its first-ever U.S. Open Cup appearance, upsetting the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-0 at Highmark Stadium in the second round match on Wednesday as Craig Purcell‘s two goals led the amateur club from Yonkers, NY, past the United Soccer League side.
“As I said in the lead-up to this game, if my players were able to train five-six days per week, they would do very well in USL,” said Austin Friel, Lansdowne Bhoys head coach. “We were patient, and took our chances when we had to — and made the most of them.”
In a game where the Riverhounds clearly dominated possession, they could not find the back of the net, despite having 14-8 advantage in shots — and twice as many corner kicks (8-4).
The game turned early in the match, as the Hounds’ Karsten Smith was called for a foul in the 10th minute.
Lansdowne’s James Nealis lined up a free kick from 32 yards near the center of the field. His bending ball toward the far post connected with Purcell, who cleanly headed it past Riverhounds goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas for the early lead.
“Complete breakdown,” said Josh Rife, Riverhounds Assistant Head Coach.
“You can’t let a guy have a free header in the box. I don’t care what level you play against. Those are bad mental mistakes. When you are not scoring goals like we are, you can’t be giving teams goals like that because right now, we’re not a team that has a lot of confidence to be able to score a lot of goals right now.”
From that point, Lansdowne Bhoys were content to keep back line and midfield tightly organized and mostly in front of the Hounds attack. They also were willing to strategically take fouls to slow down Pittsburgh.
The Riverhounds had plenty of possession– and build up to its attack from the perimeter — and at times were getting crosses in mostly from Kevin Kerr‘s right side — but few connected to create quality chances.
Zak Boggs had the only clear-cut shot on goal in the first half, and then early in the second half, in the 51st minute, Kerr sent a lining cross from the right side that connected with forward Corey Hertzog, which pinged off the bar, and bounced away from goal.
While the Hounds kept coming, as Kerr and Lebo Moloto, the team’s two leading returning scorers from USL playoff team in 2015 that made run to the fourth round of last year’s Open Cup, really starting working off each other with short passes to try to get an open opportunity in the crowded box.
The highly organized Lansdowne Bhoys held on — limiting the Hounds’ shots mostly from distance.
The Riverhounds first sub of the game turned out to be a bit of an omen.
Drew Russell entered the match for Zak Boggs in the 58th minute, and within seconds was called for a handball with intent by referee Chuck Murphy as he was trying to secure a through ball to get behind a Lansdowne Bhoys defender.
Eleven minutes later — Russell inexplicably redirected a ball played into the box with his hand again, and was sent off with his second yellow card.
Playing down a man, the Riverhounds became more vulnerable to the Lansdowne Bhoys counters. Sure enough, moments later, in the 75th minute, Ovan Oakley ripped a shot from the far left end line.
Vargas reached out to knock away the shot from a difficult angle — and it rolled right to Purcell’s foot. With an open goal in front of him, Purcell buried a one-time shot that gave the amateurs a two-goal lead with 15 minutes to play.
The 10-man Riverhounds could not surmount any additional dangerous opportunities in the final 15-plus minutes, and Landowne Bhoys pulled off the big upset.
“I am so delighted for our club, for our community,” said Friel. “A lot of hard work has gone into this. I am very proud of my players tonight.”
For the Riverhounds, it was another lackluster effort at home, where in four games this season, they are 0-4, having been outscored 8-2.
“At the end of the day, it’s not good enough as a group,” said Rife.”Up to this point, there’s not a game where we’ve not been in. But we don’t seem to have what it takes right now. Whether or not that’s the coaching staff. The players. It just has to be better.”
“Are we disappointed, yes. Extremely disappointed. Sure,” added Rife. “The beauty of the U.S. Open Cup is what happened out there today. That anybody on any given day can win. Obviously from our standpoint it hurts. It stings greatly for us.”