The Riverhounds welcome the Charleston Battery to town, the * other * black and yellow striped team in USL’s Eastern Conference. After the early rounds of the regular season, it has become clear how the East breaks down, revealing this match to be a big-time battle between two of the best teams in the division.
On 41 points, and with only 3 losses through 20 games, FC Cincinnati are runnin’ the show in the USL this year. All the various contenders down below them are jumbled into a tighter pack, with only 6 points separating them all, from 34 points to 28 points. This group includes Pittsburgh and Charleston as well as Louisville, NYRBII, and Indy 11.
Since the Hounds went up against Charleston less than a month ago, I’ll keep my scouting comments brief. I encourage you to check out my last scouting report entitled ‘Fluidity and Form in Charleston.’ Everything I said there? Still true. But I will add…
Tactics and Formation
Charleston’s 3-4-3 is silky smooth in attack. In defense, they harass and press when they want with their front three. When the opposing centerbacks possess the ball or a deep-lying midfielder tries to go through the middle, they like to have a midfielder charge up into an aggressive double team to dispossess their opponents in a dangerous place – Brian Tah-Anunga or Kotaru Higashi will play that harasser role. If they win it back high, it’s off to the races on a quick counterattack.
Their attack can quick and punishing. Here’s what they did to Louisville City last week for their first goal:
— Riverhounds Rabbi (@riverhoundrabbi) July 20, 2018
They added a second on a corner kick, headed home by centerback Neveal Hackshaw, who is my favorite non-Hound in USL because his hair is pure Albert-Einstein-meets-Bozo-the-Clown. Or if you want to just go with a more succinct follicle comparison, he’s the spitting image of Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live, doing the Lil’ Rascals Buckwheat.
After a 2-0 lead, they just defended and defended and got a solid home win. On the road, though, Charleston is only 2-2-5, and they’ve scored an impressive 15 road goals in those matches. The only teams in USL to hold them scoreless on the road are the Richmond Kickers and your very own Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Grab your popcorn. This match between two playoff-bound teams should be a great one.