The Pittsburgh Riverhounds lineup tonight against the kind of opponent that nobody really wants to play: a desperate, must-win side. The Tampa Bay Rowdies come to town with a four-game winless streak, and the Florida club sit on 27 points, 8 points off of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and with only 11 games left in the season.
Tampa have been solid-but-unspectacular at home, with a 5-3-5 record, but putridly bad on the road, recording just 7 road points in 10 matches.
The Rowdies are paced by veterans George Hristov and Joe Cole attack, but they should be forewarned: scoring may be hard to come by. Riverhounds fans know how impenetrable Bob Lilley’s defense is, as the Pittsburghers have conceded just 11 goals all season, best in all of the USL. Moreover, the Hounds have conceded an insanely low 2 goals in 11 matches at Highmark Stadium. Teams just don’t come into the football stadium at the Monongahela and score. Could somebody please give me a photoshop of Thomas Vancaeyezeele on a bridge in Middle Earth with a white beard and a staff yelling: ‘None. Shall. Pass!
The Hounds sit on 44 points and in second place in the Eastern Conference. A win tonight would ensure a winning record at home for the first time since 2015 for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is aware of the potential pitfalls of doing battle with a desperate foe. Hounds centerback spoke about it with USLsoccer.com’s Nicholas Murray, saying “They’re desperate to make the playoffs and they’ve been flying the last couple games.”
For more in-depth analysis of the Rowdies, check out Riverhound Rabbi’s preview from a few weeks back here.
Tonight’s game will be at Highmark Stadium, kicking off at 7 p.m. Pittsburgh Soccer Now will have your regular post-game wrapup, as well as the MonGoals postgame podcast.