In our newest feature, here’s a dedicated report with post-game reaction from Riverhounds coaches and players. The first edition comes after the Hounds wonky scoreless draw vs Charlotte.
After opening up the season with a bit of a dud in Tampa Bay, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds haven’t lost.
The Riverhounds are on a nine-game unbeaten streak since that opening weekend loss, with two wins and six draws in league play.
Although, if you ask players, coaches and fans, many would believe that a few of those draws should of actually been wins.
After Saturday night’s draw with Charlotte when the Riverhounds dominated the possession battle and had more quality scoring chances even playing down a man, reaction from coaches and players alike was equal in disappointment and encouragement.
“We generated a lot of good moments in the 2nd half and probably had seven or eight corners,” said Head Coach Bob Lilley. “It shows we’re getting better, it shows we’re not happy with draws. I know it ended in a draw, but we certainly weren’t playing for a draw and that’s the mindset we want going forward.”
The Riverhounds were down to 10-men late in the first half Saturday night against Charlotte after Defender Joe Greenspan was booked for two yellow cards in the first half, the second coming on an intentional handball that sent him to the locker room for the remainder of the night.
“It is not easy when you go a man down especially when it is Joe. He is so keen on the backline. I feel like the energy of the team went up and stayed focused on the ball.” Hounds Midfielder Thomas Vancaeyezeele said. “We had a lot of energy because we were pressing super high. I felt like we didn’t feel like we were a man down. We had a lot of chances and opportunities to score. I think we should have won the game. I think it is still a decent result to tie the game.”
Some teams may have cracked under the pressure after that, but it seemed like Pittsburgh upped the pressure even more on Charlotte and continued to attack their back line.
“It’s just a mentality, we do that all the time in practice,” said Midfielder Kenardo Forbes. “To go down to 10 men against that team, we get a point, we tried our best to win it.”
Their resiliency will be tested this week with two match-ups against Indy Eleven.
They will host Indy Eleven on Wednesday at Highmark Stadium in the next round of the U.S. Open Cup and will travel to Indianapolis on Saturday for their next league game.
“I feel like we’ve been getting better and wish we could get that win to show it a little bit more significantly in the standings,” said Lilley. “We just got to keep chipping away, there’s a lot of games and you know where definitely trending, in my opinion, in the right direction. I think we’re ready for a big test like Indy in the Open Cup (Wednesday) and there (Saturday).”
In the standings, it may not look good for the Riverhounds who are tied for 11th place with 12 points, one point behind Atlanta United 2 for 10th place, but Pittsburgh has also played the fewest league games so far this season (9).
Playing down to 10 men seemed to add more intensity and focus to the Hounds’ efforts on Saturday.
“When it happens, you feel adversely disappointed because there are still 15 minutes to go so it is very long and it going to be a tough game to win,” Vancaeyezeele added. “But we believe in our chances, believe in our abilities to win the game so we did what we could do.”
If the Riverhounds start turning some of these draws into wins, they should start to climb in the Eastern Conference standings and be near the top where they’re expected to be.
In addition, the Hounds had to endure another long weather delay, for the second time in as many weeks. This time, they actually finished the match.
“It’s a credit to the players, they were very good at the beginning of the game. We try to stay prepared in these delays, we had Memphis and never had a chance to go back. Typically that’s the mentality you want from your players,” Lilley added.
Forbes has been through his share of delays, and was prepared to resume play at a high level.
“The main thing is just to stay focused because we have a game to play. Even if things are 35-minute delay or 40-minute delay, we are used it also. Most of the guys who have been in the league, we are used to it. I think we responded pretty well when we came back out and did well in the first 10 minutes. I think we deserved a point.”