WALSH CAN PLAY VS WILMINGTON ON WEDNESDAY
The Riverhounds newest acquisition Chevaughn Walsh has been granted eligibility following visa approval by the USL for this Wednesday’s match against Wilmington Hammerheads FC on August 24.
Signed last week, the club expedited the approval process for Walsh originally in hopes of having him available for the start of September. With official approval by the League office, Walsh will now be available for the Hounds’ final seven matches of 2016, including Saturday’s Keystone Derby Cup clash against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
The forward joined Pittsburgh after spending the recently concluded 2016 Premier Development League (PDL) season with the Ocean City Nor’easters, scoring 14 goals en route to PDL MVP and Golden Boot honors.
I will have more on the game, which very well might be the last-ever appearance by Wilmington in Pittsburgh with a mid-week edition of BREAKING DOWN THE HOUNDS.
VINCENT SHOWS VERSATILITY FOR DC UNITED
Last season’s leading scorer for the Riverhounds, Rob Vincent, has been finding ways to continue to be useful for his new team — DC United even has he’s been limited to the being one of the available subs for most games for Ben Olsen‘s squad.
Even as he was on trial for the United, I had written about his versatility being a factor in Vincent appeal to securing a spot on the MLS club.
On August 6, Vincent got the start at holding midfield (United often use 4-1-4-1) in place of suspended Marcelo Sarvas and Jared Jeffrey still dealing with an injury, and performed well in the United’s 2-2 draw.
In Vincent’s first 10 appearances with the club, spread across two competitions, all of his minutes came as a wide midfielder — where with the Riverhounds he scored 21 goals.
This year, with the United, Vincent had yet to notch a goal or an assist.
“For one reason or another, it hasn’t quite clicked out there, I haven’t been as productive as I would have wanted,” said Vincent told Steven Streff, of BlackandRedUnited.com.
“I don’t think I have been as productive as Benny would have wanted.”
After some discussion, and with Olsen needing reliable depth in the central midfield, led to a change for Vincent.
His first game in central midfield, was against Montreal Impact alongside Marcelo, Vincent held his own in 34 minutes, prompting Olsen to go with the Liverpool, England native for the start against the Union a week later.
“I view him now as a central player for this team,” said Olsen.
“Whether its the six, or the eight spot. He can do some spot service in the 10, the 7, 11, wherever. He’s a selfless guy, and tactically pretty smart, and knows how to do certain jobs.”
Although Vincent didn’t play in the following two games, a 2-0 win over defending MLS Champion Portland Timbers and Sunday’s come-from-behind 2-2 draw with NY Red Bulls, his versatility provides Olsen with valuable depth as the United make a push to the MLS playoffs as they currently hold on to the sixth — and last spot in the MLS Eastern Conference standings.
“I just want to get as many minutes as I can. That’s what it’s all about,” said the Englishman. “First year in MLS, so even though I got a few years of experience behind me, there’s still a lot of guys ahead of me, with a lot more experience. I’m trying to learn each day, every chance I get, trying to make the most of it.”
HOUNDS HIT ROCK BOTTOM, PROMPTING BASHING & SARCASM ON SOCIAL MEDIA
There have not been too many nice things are being said or written about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at this point in the miserable 2016 campaign.
After this week’s action, the Hounds finally did it.
They hit the very bottom of the USL’s Eastern Conference Standings.
With FC Montreal hitting a hot streak (which has reached three games after beating Charleston and Bethlehem Steel FC) — they’ve managed to pull into a tie with the Hounds at 16 points. For whatever it’s worth — the tie-breakers favor Montreal, putting the Hounds at the bottom spot.
If the USL had a player selection draft, like in other American sports, then at least the Hounds could get a number one draft pick -right?
If there was promotion/relegation system, they’d be in the danger zone of dropping to another level.
Instead, they are in purgatory of the bottom of the USL standings.
The numbers don’t lie.
23 goals scored
42 goals allowed
-19 goal differential
The team’s former President, Richard Nightingale, who writes a column for our friends at Mon Goals, wasn’t too kind about the Hounds Head Coach Dave Brandt being in way over his head in the pro game after the team’s 3-0 loss to Bob Lilley‘s Rochester Rhinos on Saturday.
“Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.”
Yoda, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order could well have been referring to Lilley and Brandt.
No prizes for guessing who the master and who the apprentice are.
Rochester’s pedestrian defeat of Pittsburgh 3 – 0 on Saturday night highlighted that to be championship material in the USL as a coach you must be flexible and pragmatic in your approach. In my book, experience and however many wins at Messiah College and Navy doesn’t prepare you. The last thing Pittsburgh needed was an “apprentice” to replace Mark Steffens. I take nothing away from Brandt’s college record but take a moment and put that in perspective.
The leap from College to Professional game.
Two totally different worlds.
Even the most loyal Hounds supporters, the Steel Army, have reached beyond the five stages of grief, and are in celebratory mode to see their beloved team hit the bottom of the standings after the Rochester loss.
The Hounds ineptitude has infiltrated even a promising young goalkeeper, Zach Steffen, playing in his second game on loan from Columbus Crew — inexplicably threw away a ball back to Rochester’s Sean Reilly, who alertly drilled a shot into the goal for the commanding 3-0 lead in the second half.
Still, there remains some flickering of hope.
The team can still keep the Keystone Derby Cup in Pittsburgh if they pull out a 2-goal win at Harrisburg on Saturday.
The Steel Army will be there — and I will be there as well to provide on-site coverage of the final leg of what has been a mostly underwhelming Keystone Derby thus far this year.