Transitions are never easy, especially in soccer. If you tell a team to be more attacking, they will inevitably become less defensive, and it’s a reality that you’ve got to deal with. But you hope that a transition such as this will be smooth, especially if the team that is making the changes was one of the top clubs in USL the previous season.
It’s not quite going that way so far.
So far the Hounds have played three games, and conceded 6 goals, giving them two draws and a loss to date. In 2018, it took eleven games before the Riverhounds conceded their sixth goal of the year, so clearly the defensive regressions have been fast and unforgiving.
In this match, the Hounds conceded two, but to some degree it was a weird statistical fluke. Take a look at the first half distribution chart for Bethlehem Steel here:
There’s precious little action in the final fourth of the field because Bob Lilley’s men bunkered in and defended well, denying almost everything from a dangerous location. The two exceptions are the yellow arrows in the lower right corner of that chart: a cross from fullback Issa Rayyan that Faris finished for the first goal, and a pass from Zach Zandi to Michee Ngalina which he belted from 26 yards out for a stunner right before the half. Those were the only two shots on target of the first half, and the only other 3 shots were long, speculative bombs that didn’t even give goalkeeper Kyle Morton reason to raise his hands. In other words, Bethlehem scored on the only two opportunities they created.
Kinda fluky. But a team that finishes well gives itself a good chance to win, even if it isn’t playing better soccer. The Hounds will need to learn that trick for themselves, as their finishing has yet to impress anybody.
For a full postgame recap of the match, check this article from John Krysinsky from Saturday night right here.
Kyle Morton (GK) – 5
Morton only had one save on the night and it was fairly routine. I didn’t think his distribution out of the back was that great, and neither was his 47.4 % passing accuracy rate. He probably wasn’t going to save either of those two goals that Bethlehem, though, so committing no serious errors on the night ought to be commended.
Jordan Dover (RWB) – 5
Dover’s 64% passing (32 of 50) was pretty mediocre. He had 3 interceptions and that’s good, and none of the goals by Bethlehem came down his side – he was defensively alert and aware all match. That said, a lot of action came his way in the second half and he probably could have closed down more.
Tobi Adewole (D) – 4
Adewole lost Faris for the first goal, and was also partially responsible on the Ngalina belter because he got screened out and didn’t close down enough. Two fouls and 69% passing – nothing was really good enough from Tobi on this night.
Joseph Greenspan (D) – 7.5
Ensign Joe had the game-tying goal on the corner – that was good! He also had 8 clearances, which was really good. As the second half went on, Bethlehem really liked sending it in from wide, and Joe was the guy that booted all those balls out. Joe also was the main quarterback of the ‘kick it long’ strategy, with 24 long passes, but there he could have been a little better/more accurate.
Thomas Vancaeyezeele (D) – 6.5
Tommy had a good, solid outing; 3 clearances, 3 tackles, solid passing.
Ryan James (LWB) – 6
A lot of offense that the Hounds generated cames from James’ side, and he had 3 key passes, including the one that turned into Kevin Kerr’s goal. But also, both goals from Bethlehem came down his side, and he definitely should have been in a better spot for Issa Rayyan’s assist on the first goal.
Kevin Kerr (M) – 7
Big goal! Also several good corners and passes into dangerous spots. But also, he got an opportunity to put in a penalty kick due to a (probably bogus) handball call. And he blew it.
Kenardo Forbes (M) – 7.5
Kenardo had 38 for 46 passing for 82.6%, which was excellent, and he recirculated the ball all over while getting the job done in defense. Solid from Captain Kenardo.
Mohamed Dabo (M) – 6.5
Dabo took away the middle of the field from Bethlehem, but was at least partially at fault with the second goal – he should have been more aggressive in following the ball and disturbing Ngalina’s shot.
Neco Brett (ST) – 5.5
Two shots, one blocked and one on target, so that’s ok. But he was kind of uninvolved overall. Could be better.
Steeven Dos Santos (ST) – 5.5
Dos Santos had five shots, but I honestly don’t remember any of them except for one that he muffed. Not great, but at least he got into position to shoot.
Anthony Velarde (Sub at 78′ for Dabo) – NG
Did he touch the ball? I don’t remember him touching the ball. Maybe he touched the ball?
Christian Volesky (Sub at 71′ for Kerr) – 5
He came on and had a shot! It was saved.
Picture above care of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC via twitter