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Hounds cruise past Steel FC with convincing 4-1 win

Hounds cruise past Steel FC with convincing 4-1 win

FINAL – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 4, Bethlehem Steel FC 1

USL Match Center

All the Riverhounds SC needed was a little home cooking to get back in the win column and close out a game, instead of allowing an opponent to get back into the game.

The Hounds bounced back with convincing victory, beating Bethlehem Steel FC, 4-1 at Highmark Stadium on Friday, with Joe Greenspan, Kenardo Forbes, Neco Brett and Jordan Dover each getting into the act with goals.

“We’ve been performing fairly well over these past few games. It’s just things haven’t quite gone our way,” Dover said. “I think we’ve been a little bit unlucky, so it’s finally nice to be rewarded for another good performance.”

The Hounds pummeled Steel FC with an impressive shot advantage (24-6, 16-1 in the box and 8-2 on target), to improve its record to 13-4-10, and push forward into second place in the USL Eastern Conference standings for the moment with 49 points.

In a weekend where in-state rivalry games will take precedence along the Three Rivers, the Hounds were on the front foot early and often in a game that was fairly open ended, to take the season sweep from its Eastern PA rivals.

Even with the win, while Hounds coach Bob Lilley was pleased with the result, he felt things remained too close for comfort until Brett’s goal in the 76th minute that gave the Hounds a 3-1 advantage.

Considering that his team has lost second half leads in its previous four matches, settling for three draws, then a disappointing loss at Cincinnati, Lilley’s concerns had plenty of merit.

“We had good moments in the game where we looked dynamic, but frankly, even at 2-1 up, we were open,” Lilley said. “Had they come back to tie us again, we could have been in trouble. We just have to be more complete tonight, but we had a will and intensity to want to go forward to want to score goals.”

That will and intensity was exemplified by two players who were involved in a play that led to surrendering a late goal against front running FC Cincinnati last week.

In the 17th minute, those two players, Ben Zemanski and Joe Greenspan, found some redemption.

After Ray Lee was taken down when trying to get forward on the left side, the Hounds took advantage of a free kick opportunity.

Greenspan scored his second goal of the season, with a perfectly timed run and header from an perfectly placed free kick from Zemanski that beat Steel FC’s John McCarthy.

The Riverhounds opened up in a 3-1-4-2 formation, opting to press high with both Neco Brett and Romeo Parkes at forward.

The Hounds midfield set up with Forbes setting up a bit higher in the central midfield along with Zemanski, with Mouhamed Dabo sitting back in the holding midfield position in front of a three man back line that featured Greenspan with Tobe Adewole on his left and Thomas Vancaeyezeele on his right. Roaming the flank were the wingers — Ray Lee on the left side and Jordan Dover, on the right, pushing up as high as they’ve been all season.

Forbes continued to be the catalyst for the Hounds attack.

Parkes had a golden opportunity to give the Hounds a 2-0 lead, but missed a header chance after a nice feed from Forbes in the 25th minute.

Forbes, who created five key passes, and connected on 55 of 63 passes, also found Dover a few times on the width to create some dangerous moments.

“Playing with Kenny is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. It’s give him the ball and pretty much run forward. It’s just waiting for the ball to appear in front of my feet,” Dover said. “It’s always nice playing with him. His vision is amazing.”

Greenspan would be the guilty party in the 35th minute, knocking down Taris Pemi Moubagna in the box, that would set up a penalty kick chance for Steel FC.

Bethlehem’s captain, James Chambers unleashed a solid, low strike inside the left post that beat Hounds keeper Mike Kirk.

The Hounds closed out the half strong — coming forward numerous times and finally capitalizing in the 45th minute.

Brett showed patience after taking a touch just inside the left side of the box, then laying the ball off for his play making midfielder, Forbes.

The veteran then let one fly, with a shot that buzzed into the right corner that McCarthy had no chance to stop.

Forbes made sure that Brett knew he was there.

“I kept calling to him the whole time. I said, ‘Neco wait, wait for me.’ He did and luckily he passed it to me, and we got a goal. I saw that they gave me a lot of space and I didn’t see a pass immediately, so I decided to shoot, and luckily it went in.”

Even holding a 2-1 lead into the second half, the Hounds were still in a precarious position, as they were in previous games.

“They were winning second balls. Getting balls through,” Lilley said. “Frankly even at 2-1 up we were open. Had they came back and tied us again, we could have been in trouble.”

This time around, the Hounds got the important third goal of the match, which denied any chance for a Steel FC comeback, as Brett scored his team leading 14th goal of the season with some nifty moves to shake a pair of defenders, and a left footed shot.

“We were fortunate to get that one. We needed it,” Lilley added.

They finished off the scoring in the 79th minute with an impressive hook-up between the two hybrid outside wingers — Jordan Dover and Ray Lee.

Lee chipped a ball over to the far post area — and Dover provided a clinical one time shot from close range.

Dover was glad Lee saw him coming.

“I saw him bursting down the left a bit earlier and I was screaming at him from about 40 yards out, asking for him to give me the ball. I saw him keep going, he was still going, and then the back post opened up for me and he found me. It’s good to connect with him.”

Hounds set a single-game season high with 24 total shots.

“I’m happy with the three points. I’m happy with some of the things we did. But I do feel we need a better performance next week against Louisville. It’s a big game,” Lilley said.

Beyond the Box Score

  • James Chambers’ goal marks the first time an opposing team has scored in the first half at Highmark Stadium this season.
  • In addition to notching his second assist this season, Ben Zemanski also led the squad with three good crosses.
  • Defender Tobi Adewole led the squad with four tackles and eight clearances.
  • Pittsburgh goes undefeated (2-0-0) against Bethlehem for the first time in club history since Steel FC joined the USL in 2016.

What’s Next
Riverhounds SC will stay home to clash with reigning USL-champion Louisville City FC (13-5-8) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds won their first meeting, 1-0, on June 27 at Slugger Field.

Lineups:

Riverhounds SC – Mike Kirk – Ray Lee, Tobi Adewole, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Joe Greenspan, Jordan Dover – Ben Zemanski (Joe Holland 82’), Mouhamed Dabo – Kenardo Forbes, Romeo Parkes (Noah Franke 75’) – Neco Brett (Kay Banjo 82’)

Subs not used: Nathan Ingham, Ben Fitzpatrick, Andrew Lubahn, Hugh Roberts

Bethlehem Steel FC – John McCarthy – Prosper Chiluya, Brandon Aubrey, Matt Mahoney, Olivier Mbaizo – James Chambers, Drew Skundrich – Brenden Aaronson (Chris Nanco 78’), Marcus Epps (Santi Moar 61’), Michee, Ngalina – Faris Moumbagna (Aidan Apodaca 61’)

Subs not used: Tomas Romera, A.J. Paterson, Ben Ofeimu

Scoring Summary:
PGH – Joe Greenspan 17’ (Ben Zemanski)
BST – James Chambers 35’ (penalty)
PGH – Kenardo Forbes 45’ (Neco Brett)
PGH – Neco Brett 76’
PGH – Jordan Dover 79’ (Ray Lee)

Misconduct Summary:
PGH – Mouhamed Dabo 55’ (caution)
BST – Brandon Aubrey 90’ (caution)

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, and more. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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