With Open Cup games and a lot going on during the middle of the past few weeks, this regular feature took a hiatus, but we’re back this week with a new edition of the Notebook.
There’s a lot going on — and will hopefully use this space to address some of these items as the Hounds gear up to play an important league match versus Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday, then travel to Columbus on Tuesday for its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match.
OPEN CUP MATCH SET FOR TUESDAY IN COLUMBUS
After drawing the Columbus Crew SC in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 29 after beating Indy Eleven, it was finally officially announced on Tuesday that the Hounds will travel to take on the Crew at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
This will be the first-ever time the clubs will meet in Open Cup action.
A MATTER OF TIME
While some Hounds fans may be frustrated with where the team stands at this point in league play this season, with only two wins in ten games, many of the veteran players at training this week, expressed that they’re not overly concerned.
I wrote about this in my Analysis/Player Grades after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Indianapolis, which dropped the Hounds overall record in USL Championship to 2-2-6.
Matt Gajtka stopped by Hounds training on Tuesday, then wrote in his ‘View from the Booth’ column, sharing the current vibe among players this week is that they’re going about their business, training hard and all believe it’s going to be a matter of time until they start picking up more wins.
DOVER REPRESENTS GUYANA IN GOLD CUP
Four years ago, the Hounds had a player represented in the Gold Cup: Goalkeeper Ryan Thompson. Thompson stepped into the role of starting keeper for a Reggae Boyz squad that beat the U.S. in the Semifinal round, then fell to Mexico in the final.
Once again, the Hounds will have one of it’s key players competing in CONCACAF’s bi-annual competition, as Jordan Dover, who was selected to Guyana National Team’s roster as they prepare to compete in the Gold Cup Tournament that starts in the coming weeks.
Guyana fell to Bermuda 1-0, in a friendly on Thursday night. Dover was among players ‘not present’ according to the line-up cards.
Golden Jaguars will then travel to Costa Rica to continue their camp over the period June 9-13 and while there, they will play another international friendly, this time against Caribbean powerhouse, Haiti, on June 11.
From Costa Rica, the team will travel to their base in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, for their opening game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019 on June 18 against defending champions, US Men’s National Team.
The Golden Jaguars were drawn in Group D of the 16-team tournament, with the USA, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago.
LINING UP DOS SANTOS-FRANCOIS SWAP
After the Riverhounds sold the rights to Christiano François in the off season to this week’s opponent, Ottawa Fury FC, they signed Steevan Dos Santos, who had played the past two seasons in Ottawa, and before that played for current Hounds coach Bob Lilley in Rochester, where they won a USL Cup in 2015.
François has thrived thus far in Ottawa, where he’s playing on a wider home field and in a different system, having already scored three goals and contributed three assists.
The Haitian attacking threat caught up with Rachael McKriger on Thursday. Her story will follow on Friday.
In addition, Gajtka caught up with Ottawa’s manager Nikola Popovic on Thursday. Popovic raved about former Hound François and spoke about the Cheetah‘s impact on his team’s 6-2-3 start:
“He’s a fantastic player. I think he fits my model.” Popovic said he tried to get François “for years.”
Still, the Ottawa coach acknowledged his side “will have to keep close watch” on former Fury FC striker Dos Santos, especially when Hounds go direct.
Shortly after the Hounds signed Dos Santos, I wrote about these moves, evaluating and comparing these two unique players.
Thus far, the Hounds can probably boast that they’ve produced a more balanced scoring output in its first 10 league matches than a year ago, and while they have played a lot through Dos Santos this year when they work things into the final third, the veteran big man hasn’t exactly been the dynamic force that François has been for Ottawa.
If you look at the results, you might say that Ottawa (to this point of the season) has gotten the better of what essentially turned out to be a swap between the teams, as the Hounds sold François’ contract for cash considerations.
Here’s how the two players compare thus far this season:
Christiano François (2019)
Games played: 11, Starts: 11, Minutes: 970, Goals: 3, Assists 3, Shots 23, Shots on Target 14, Conversion Rate: 13
Steevan Dos Santos (2019)
Games played: 10, Starts 8, Minutes: 709, Goals 1, Assists: 0, Shots: 19, Shots on Target 6, Conversion Rate: 5.3,
It’s clear that the pacy François is thriving at the top of Ottawa’s 4-3-3 attacking formation, though two of his three goals this season came late in a 4-1 win vs Charlotte last week.
Dos Santos, who’s more experienced and has scored 37 goals in USL Championship play in the past six years, was brought to Pittsburgh to use his size, his deft first touch and ability to win balls in the air as well as draw contact in the final third.
It should be interesting to watch and see how these two players perform in return match vs their former squads.
Hounds Injury / Roster Updates
Dover was injured at the end of the Charlotte match on May 25, and wasn’t cleared for the following games with Indy Eleven. Now that Dover is with Guyana’s National Team, he won’t be available to the Hounds until after they’ve completed play in Gold Cup. At the earliest, they complete round-robin play in its group on June 26.
The Hounds will likely turn to Dani Rovira, who’s played the past two matches, or potentially Noah Franke, who’s played in attacking midfield spot and part of five man back line too. Otherwise, the Hounds might have to explore or be creative with other options on the right flank beyond Rovira or Franke Two defenders, Caleb Smith and Prosper Figbe have been on the injured list for much of the season. Another option could have the ultra versatile Thomas Vancaeyezeele inserted into that spot if the Hounds play four in the back, with Joe Greenspan and Tobi Adewole in the middle.
The Hounds have three goalkeepers that have now played at least three matches each, and Columbus Crew loanee, Ben Lundgaard, has returned to full training after being injured in early May. Since that time, Kyle Morton and Austin Pack have shared the duties in goal. It’s anyone’s guess as to who might start Saturday’s match vs Ottawa.
Here’s the official injury report heading into Saturday’s match vs Ottawa:
- Mouhamed Dabo – Out (hamstring)
- Prosper Figbe – Out (knee)
- Caleb Smith – Out (groin)
UPCOMING PSN COVERAGE
Look for more on Rachael McKriger‘s conversation with François on Friday, while leading up to the match, Mark Goodman will provide his Game Preview and Scouting Report of Ottawa Fury FC, early Saturday.
We’ll have game day coverage from Highmark on Saturday along with post-game reaction and more.
And of course, we’ll have additional coverage of the Open Cup match vs Columbus. on Tuesday
Goodman will also provide a scouting report prior to the match vs Columbus, and we will provide a post-game recap and get reaction from Columbus on Tuesday evening.