The Riverhounds SC keep rolling.
On Sunday, they took another step forward as they battle for the top spot in the USL’s Eastern Conference by defeating Ottawa Fury FC, 1-0, posting their fifth straight shutout at TD Place in Ottawa.
“I think we’re improving,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “I look at the whole journey of where we can be and where we want to go. The only way to stay anywhere near the top is to continually improve.”
While the Hounds conceded three corner kicks, a close range free kick and most of the early possession in the first 20 minutes, they turned the tables of the match as soon as they drew their first corner kick.
In the 21st minute, after a Christiano Francios run deep to the end line set up a corner kick, the Hounds struck on a long corner sequence which they kept the ball alive.
Francios delivered the corner that connected with defender Joe Greenspan, who’s hard driving header was saved by Maxime Crepeau.
The Hounds extended the play to create the game’s lone goal.
Francois collected the ball after Ottawa weren’t able to clear, then sent a very high ball over the box that Todd Pratzner was able to redirect back to center of the box.
That’s where Hugh Roberts was to one-time the ball into the back of the net.
— USL (@USL) July 8, 2018
It was the first goal of the season for Roberts, and the second in as many games by a Hounds defender against Ottawa this season, as Tobi Adewole scored in the 1-0 win at Highmark Stadium in April.
Hounds came out set up mostly in a 5-4-1 or a 3-6-1 depending if they were defending or attacking.
The back three, with help from two holding midfielders, Thomas Vancaeyezeele and Kenardo Forbes along with wingers Jordan Dover and Andy Lubahn did a better job than the past few games in keeping lanes and openings into the box sealed. Most of Ottawa’s advances were limited — to the width and they were trying attempts over the top that were snuffed out pretty easily by the center backs.
Early in the second half, Neco Brett had this look.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) July 8, 2018
After receiving a nice lay off from Francois, Andy Lubahn unleashed a shot from close range on the left side of the box that Crepeau had to make a quick reaction save.
The Hounds conceded more possession in the second half, as the game ended with each team having 50 percent of the ball, but they were in command of the match limiting Ottawa to two shots — and only one on goal.
One opportunity for Ottawa came in the 47th minute after a deep run into the box and centering ball into the goal box area by Adonijah Reid the ball deflected off Greenspan by the near post. Even though Greenspan was facing the goal, the ball circled away from goal.
The Fury also made things interesting in stoppage time when late sub Steevan Dos Santos right footed shot from a difficult angle was saved in the center of the goal by Hounds keeper Dan Lynd, who posted his ninth shutout of the season.
Finishing with four shots on target for the match, Pittsburgh put two more takes on net in the second half.
In the 59th minute, defender Andrew Lubahn made a run into the 18-yard box and sent a left-footed shot high, but was saved by Crépeau. Later in the 82nd minute, midfielder Kenardo Forbes placed a shot on target from outside of the penalty area, but also was saved by the Ottawa goalkeeper.
With Lilley expressing some frustration after previous games with the Hounds inability to close out spaces and allowing opponents with more looks from inside the box — he had to be relatively pleased with limiting the Fury to only two shots (one on target) for the entire match.
Now the Hounds will have another extended break — with 13 days between games.
It will be another well earned rest for a team that continues to show they’re on the rise.
Dan Lynd – 7 – again, pretty active coming off line and made one save
Andrew Lubahn – 6.5 – provided steady presence on the left side of the attack
Hugh Roberts – 7.5 – another clean sheet, four clearances and stayed with the play to get the game’s lone goal with a clinical finish
Joe Greenspan – 7.5 – note another clean sheet. Hounds have yet to surrender a goal with him in the line up this year. That’s pretty crazy.
Todd Pratzner – 7 – kept play alive with header over to center of box for Roberts. How about that — a defender to defender goal.
Jordan Dover – 6.5 – when Hounds got forward a lot of action centered around left side with Lubahn and Francois, but Dover won his share of battles.
Kenardo Forbes – 6 – played deep for much of the game, then came up later in match — including getting a shot from right side.
Thomas Vancaeyezeele – 7 – played along side Forbes most of the match as holding mid, but was pushing up higher at times when they were paired, especially when the Hounds were on front foot possessing the ball.
Christiano François – 8 – had a fantastic first half, very active throughout creating the corner and then a creative high ball over to Pratzner. Couldn’t finish match as he used up his energy which was fine because he’s played hard until he was subbed out.
Ray Lee (73’) – 6 – solid presence late in contest.
Neco Brett – 6 – work rate always good. Nice to see playing on right side, he took a chance from distance too.
Mouhamed Dabo (73’) – 6 – keeps coming in as defensive sub after Hounds have lead and pushes the versatile Forbes to get forward when necessary.
Romeo Parkes – 6- work rate was certainly there — and needs to be more active in the box, but his presence is taking defenders.
Dennis Chin (85’) – n/a – was active and brought good energy in the closing moments of match
Stat of the Game
Posting its fifth straight clean sheet, Riverhounds SC has not allowed a goal in the past 487 minutes of gameplay.
Beyond the Box Score
- As Kevin Kerr received his first game off this season, only Neco Brett and Thomas Vancaeyezeele have played in every match for the Hounds this year.
- With his assist on Hugh Roberts’ goal, defender Todd Pratzner registered his first career point at the USL level.
- With the clean sheet, goalkeeper Dan Lynd ties a team record for the most shutouts (nine) in a single season. He ties the marks of former Pittsburgh keepers Randy Dedini (2003) and Hunter Gilstrap (2011).
- Earning three points, the Hounds stay unbeaten against Ottawa Fury FC all-time (3-0-1).
Riverhounds SC – Dan Lynd – Andrew Lubahn, Hugh Roberts, Joe Greenspan, Todd Pratzner, Jordan Dover – Kenardo Forbes, Thomas Vancaeyezeele – Christiano François (Ray Lee 73’), Neco Brett (Mouhamed Dabo 73’) – Romeo Parkes (Dennis Chin 85’)
Subs not used: Mike Kirk, Tobi Adewole, Kay Banjo, Noah Franke
Ottawa – Maxime Crépeau – Onua Obasi, Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, Nana Attakora, Eddie Edward – Kévin Oliveira (Cristian Portilla 78’), Chris Mannella, Jamar Dixon – Adonijah Reid (Jimmy-Shammar Sanon 72’), Tony Taylor, Carl Haworth (Steevan Dos Santos 62’)
Subs not used: David Monsalve, Sergio Manesio, Monti Mohsen, Gabriel Wiethaeuper-Balbinotti
PGH – Hugh Roberts 22’ (Todd Pratzner)
Riverhounds SC will have 13 days until its next league match, a home showdown with the Charleston Battery (6-3-8) at 7 p.m. on July 21 at Highmark Stadium. The sides tied 0-0 in their previous meeting at Charleston earlier this season (June 23)