FINAL – Charleston Battery 1, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 0
On Saturday, in a match between two teams battling near the top of the league’s standings, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC came up empty despite creating numerous chances, then conceded a late goal to the Charleston Battery to lose 1-0 at Highmark Stadium.
It was a game filled with missed opportunities for Pittsburgh.
With the result, the Hounds (34 points) drop to third place, while Charleston (35 points) moves past Pittsburgh in the standings, as they take the season series (1-0-1).
“The reality is we played well, but Charleston deserves credit. They were pretty sharp, and they hung in there, and found a goal. And that’s what good teams do,” Bob Lilley, Riverhounds SC coach said. “If we play a lot of games like that, we’re going to win a hell of a lot of games.
It was a late goal by Atulla Guerra in the 88th minute that was the difference in giving the red hot Battery a big road win, and handing the Hounds a disappointing result.
Number 1⃣1⃣ for Ataulla Guerra.
— Charleston Battery (@Chas_Battery) July 22, 2018
Carrying over momentum from a strong first half that had everything but a go-ahead goal, the Hounds set up a penalty kick in the 52nd minute after Kevin Kerr‘s ball in from left end line hit a Charleston defender’s arm.
The team’s leading scorer, Neco Brett stepped up to take the penalty kick.
The former Robert Morris standout drove a low shot toward the right side of goal, but Charleston’s goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky came up with a diving save to keep the clean sheet.
“One thing I can say, is that Neco Brett is a good goal scorer. He hasn’t gotten a ton of chances the last four games, but today he had chances,” Lilley said. “That’s a good sign. I’ll put my money on Neco to score on a regular basis because he’s a good player for us.”
The Riverhounds came out on the front foot from the start of the match in a 3-4-1-2 formation, creating numerous chances and owning the possession battle throughout the game (57%-43%).
In this formation, Kevin Kerr dropped underneath two higher forwards Neco Brett and Christiano François.
Chances were there.
The numbers were tilted in the Hounds favor.
But it was just one of those nights.
Things opened up for François a few times, creating a pair of glaring opportunities.
Both times François found the woodwork — hitting the bar in the 16th minute from a shot from just inside the left corner of the box after Kerr fed him the ball, then the Haitian hit the right post from a shot near center of the box in the 27th minute after a decent build-up.
“Yeah, when you drop three points in that type of way, it’s kind of hard to swallow,” Kenardo Forbes, Hounds midfielder, said. “We moved the ball pretty well. Christiano was really dangerous. It was just one of those days. We hit the post two times, didn’t convert a PK. ”
Also from the left side early in the match, winger Ray Lee sent in a few low driving balls that forced Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky to stop by the near post.
Kuzminsky made four saves and earned his seventh clean sheet of the season — two of those coming against the Riverhounds this season. The teams played to 0-0 draw in June.
Charleston’s attack was mostly limited by the Hounds swarming defense.
That was, until the very end of the match, when Angelo Kelly won possession of the ball on the right end line, found an opening — and delivered the ball to the far post, to find one of the top goal scorers in the USL standing unmarked behind Hounds goalkeeper Dan Lynd.
The loss ended a few impressive streaks — as the Hounds ended a six game unbeaten run, conceded for the first time in 570 minutes and surrendered a goal for the first time in more than five matches.
“It was disappointing when you look at the big crowd we had here tonight, but when you look at the big picture, as a coach. and look the process at where we’re at, you look at this, at the moment, I like where we’re going. I like what we were doing,” Lilley said.
The Hounds veteran coach seemed fairly optimistic and philosophical after the match, taking a step back to look at the big picture.
“I was much more impressed with what we were doing tonight, than the entirety of the Louisville game. Games are going to be tight. Obviously we’re pretty good at not losing games. It’s only our second loss.”
The Hounds will be ready to get back to work on Monday, as they gear up for a road match at North Carolina FC next Saturday.
“The key to being a pro, you have to have short term memory,” Forbes said. “We have to sulk tonight and get over it tomorrow. We have to come back ready for practice Monday.”
Additional post-game analysis and player grades will be posted later on Sunday.
Stat of the Game
- The Hounds possessed the ball for double the amount of time in its offensive third (31.5 percent) than its defensive third (15.1 percent).
Beyond the Box Score
- Charleston’s goal ends defender Joe Greenspan’s streak of not being on the field for a goal allowed this season. His streak is snapped at 644 minutes.
- Despite outshooting their opponent, 11-5, the Hounds could not grab the victory. Both of the team’s losses this season came when it outshot its opposition.
- The Hounds recorded 10 corner kicks in the match, which ties a season high.
- Awarded a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, it marks the first time the Hounds went to the penalty spot since the 2017 season finale (Oct. 14) – a penalty kick goal by Corey Hertzogagainst Ottawa Fury FC in the 77th minute.
Riverhounds SC will hit the road to battle North Carolina FC (6-8-5) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Hounds won their first meeting this season – a Fourth of July clash – by a score of 2-0.
Riverhounds SC – Dan Lynd – Ray Lee, Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Hugh Roberts, Jordan Dover – Kevin Kerr (Kay Banjo 82’), Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Kenardo Forbes, Christiano François – Neco Brett (Romeo Parkes 82’)
Subs not used: Mike Kirk, Todd Pratzner, Andrew Lubahn, Noah Franke, Mouhamed Dabo
Charleston Battery – Joe Kuzminsky– Neveal Hackshaw, Taylor Mueller– O’brian Woodbine (Vincenzo Candela 80’), Tah Brian Anunga, Angelo Kelly Jay Bolt– Gordon Wild (Victor Mansaray 71’), Ataulla Guerra, Kotaro Higashi (Nico Rittmeyer 64’)
Subs not used: Odisnel Cooper, Ian Svantesson, Patrick Okonkwo, Ryan Arambula
CHS – Ataulla Guerra 88’
CHS – Ataulla Guerra (Caution 83’)
PGH – Thomas Vancaeyezeele (Caution 89’)