The Riverhounds SC and Pittsburgh area soccer fans have been waiting for this for a long time.
Finally, on Saturday night, after a 2-2 road draw against Charlotte that featured a very late, stoppage time equalizer by Ben Zemanski, the Hounds clinched a home playoff game for the first time in the six-year history of Highmark Stadium.
“I think it’s a big accomplishment for our guys to lock down a top four spot,” Bob Lilley, Riverhounds head coach, said. “Now we have a target to try to get in the top two.”
That will still take some work.
PITTSBURGH-LOUISVILLE-CHARLESTON JOCKEY FOR SECOND THROUGH FOURTH PLACE SPOTS
If you haven’t already heard by now, soon-to-be in the MLS FC Cincinnati have been the runaway USL Regular Season Champions, and currently hold an 18-point edge in the standings over both Pittsburgh and Louisville, who are deadlocked with 57 points apiece. Charleston Battery are holding on to the fourth place spot with 53 points, after an uncharacteristic 2-1 loss to last place Toronto FC II.
How ironic that TFCII have beaten both Charleston and Louisville this season. The Hounds won all three of its matches with the Young Reds.
Pittsburgh and Louisville have each played 31 games, and have three games remaining.
The Riverhounds will face FC Cincy on Saturday, then finish with two on the road, at ATL United 2 on Wednesday, October 10, and the finale against NY Red Bulls II on Sunday, October 14. Cincy may have everything wrapped up for the playoffs, and carrying a 10-game winning and 21-game unbeaten streaks, FCC will be motivated to finish an impressive regular season. The Hounds held leads against FCC in two games on the road this season, but FCC did come to Highmark Stadium in May and beat the Hounds in US Open Cup. We will have more on this week’s match-up in the days ahead, but there should be plenty of intrigue for Saturday’s showdown, even if technically Cincy has little incentives except to keep its streaks alive. The Hounds will have to look at taking at least somewhere in the ballpark of seven to nine points (at least two wins and a draw) to secure second place.
Currently, it appears that Louisville holds the tiebreaker edge as they have a higher number of wins (1st tiebreaker) and better goal differential (the second tie-breaker +29 to +22) than Pittsburgh. The Hounds may hold the head-to-head record of 1-0-1 vs Louisville this year, but that doesn’t carry much weight in tie-breakers.
On paper, it appears that Louisville may have the easier road, but not much easier. They’ll have to face the aforementioned, last place Toronto FC II on Friday, then finish with two games at home the following week (North Carolina FC on October 9 and Indy Eleven on October 13). North Carolina and Indy though are dangerous opponents who are still in the thick of things fighting for playoff spots. Indy, who have lost three of its last four games, are holding on to fifth place, while NCFC are right above the playoff line in eighth.
Charleston is the only other team that can potentially catch Pittsburgh and Louisville, but that will be a tall order, as they only have two games remaining against ATL United 2 (October 7) and Ottawa (October 13).
We’ll also be watching the bottom half of the playoff line closely in the next two weeks as things are still too close to call in determining the top eight that will make it through.
PLAYOFF TICKETS ON SALE THURSDAY
The Hounds will definitely host one playoff game, and if they finish in second place, they’ll host at least two if they get that far. The club announced its efforts to push for a sellout for the first-round playoff date, which has been set for Saturday, Oct. 20, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Tickets for the match go on sale to the general public this Thursday.
The playoff appearance will mark a few significant milestones for the Hounds:
- first time since 2015 they’ve qualified for the playoffs
- it will be the 100th match in Highmark Stadium history played on October 20,
- it will also be the first postseason match at the venue.
The Hounds last playoff appearance in 2015, they lost to NY Red Bulls 4-2, in an exciting match that went to extra time.
Tickets are currently available to season ticket and mini plan holders for a special pre-sale. The Hounds will be announcing more details the match, including a planned giveaway to fans in attendance. For more information, please contact our ticketing office at 412-865-GOAL