FINAL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 2, Toronto FC II 1
The Riverhounds SC picked up their first road win, extended its unbeaten streak and best start in franchise history by beating Toronto FC II, 2-1, on the strength of two first half goals by Neco Brett and Kevin Kerr at Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester, NY on Saturday night.
Despite a dominant performance in the first half, the Hounds allowed TFCII to hang around, as the Young Reds had numerous counter opportunities in the second half, finally converting on a goal in the 90th minute.
The Hounds owned the possession battle — holding a 68 percent advantage as they came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
They were led by especially strong performances by its pair of seasoned midfielders Kenardo Forbes and Kerr, who were effective in working together in the center of the field, dictating tempo and initiating numerous chances.
In his sixth season with Pittsburgh, Kerr moved up in the team’s record books as he was involved in both goals in the first half, coming up with the assist on the opening goal, then converting on the second.
In the 12th minute, Kerr did a nice job to keep the ball in play, then cut it back from the end line into a box crowded with TFCII defenders. Still, Brett took aim and made his shot count to give the Hounds the early lead.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) May 5, 2018
It was Brett’s team leading fifth goal of the season. For Kerr it was his 22nd career assist with Pittsburgh, tying him with assists list with Gary DePalma and his former coach Justin Evans.
The Hounds continued to knock the ball around effectively from the middle of the field. Kerr missed a golden chance on a build-up of one-touch passes that left him with room to shoot from 12 yards — but he hit it off the bar in the 19th minute.
TFCII began to find counter chances — starting with a dangerous moment when Rochester native Hounds goalkeeper Dan Lynd came up with this save in the 20th minute.
Kerr would make up for hitting the bar, as the Hounds would again string together a number of one-time passes, as Kerr started it, then found Ben Zemanski, who played it back to Kerr.
Then Kerr played a give-and-go with Brett — and converted on his second shot opportunity.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) May 5, 2018
It was the Scot’s 23rd career goal in USL play with the Riverhounds, putting him even with his former teammate, Jose Angulo.
Moments after Kerr’s goal, TFCII had another dangerous chance on a redirected header that appeared to be heading beyond the reach of Lynd, but Hounds midfielder Thomas Vancaeyezeele was there to boot the shoulder-high ball away in the nick of time.
With the Hounds up 2-0, they were seemingly in command.
Even with the second half playing out similarly, the Hounds couldn’t convert on numerous deep runs into the final third.
This started to allow for TFCII to counter — and the Hounds were susceptible in getting back into a strong defensive shape.
Toronto FC II would keep coming close.
Missing on three shots from the edge of the box in the middle stages of the second half — having each shot miss the inside of the left post by only a foot or two each time.
Finally, in the 90th minute, TFCII’s Mariano Miño played a through ball that made its way through the Hounds back line and found Shaan Hundal making a run to the back post area — getting behind Tobi Adewole who came in as a late substitution.
Pittsburgh have now allowed just three goals in seven matches.
The Riverhounds fell just short of their sixth shutout of the season, and their second against Toronto after securing a 4-0 home win on April 7, despite limiting TFCII to just three shots on target.
It was a triumphant return to Rochester for Hounds coach Bob Lilley, and seven players who were part of the Rochester Rhinos 2017 team.
Brett has exploded onto the scene in his return to Pittsburgh, as the former Robert Morris University standout has accounted for five of the team’s 10 goals through seven matches. The Jamaican earned 22 starts for Portland T2 in 2016 and now owns 12 goals in his USL career.
With the win, the Hounds have inched even further up the USL’s Eastern Conference standings and are the only team remaining without a loss.
With 15 points, they now trail Louisville City FC (who lost to Indy Eleven on Saturday afternoon) by two points, and FC Cincinnati (who beat ATL2, 4-2) by three points.
12’ – PGH – Neco Brett
36’ – PGH – Kevin Kerr (Neco Brett)
90+1’ – TOR – Shaan Hundal (Mariano Miño)
Beyond the Boxscore
- Neco Brett has four of his five goals this season against Toronto FC II.
- Kevin Kerr moves into a three-way tie with José Angulo and Phil Karn for fifth all-time in club history with 23 career goals.
- Thomas Vancaeyezeele is the only Pittsburgh athlete to play all 630 minutes this season.
- Dan Lynd remains undefeated on the season with a 2-0-3 goalkeeping record.
- With Saturday’s victory, the Hounds now have a 7-0-2 all-time record against Toronto FC II.
Riverhounds SC will return to Pittsburgh for its first-ever meeting with Indy Eleven (4-2-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 11 at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds are currently unbeaten (3-0-1) at home in 2018.
Riverhounds SC – Dan Lynd – Andrew Lubahn, Hugh Roberts, Todd Pratzner, Jordan Dover – Ben Zemanski (Joe Holland 72’), Thomas Vancaeyezeele – Kevin Kerr (Tobi Adewole 86’), Kenardo Forbes (Bakie Goodman 90+2’), Christiano François – Neco Brett
Subs not used: Mike Kirk, Noah Franke, Ray Lee, Romeo Parkes
Toronto FC II – Caleb Patterson-Sewell – Brandon Okony, Julian Dunn-Johnson, Robert Boskovic, Kyle Bjornethun – Noble Okello Ayo (Shaan Hundal 79’), Luca Uccello (Matthew Srebly 68’) – Malik Johnson, Mariano Miño, Aidan Daniels, Ben Spencer (Olakunle Dada-Luke 65’)
Subs not used: Angelo Cavalluzzo, Akim Andrews, Rocco Romeo, Gideon Waja
Analysis/player grades will follow on Sunday.