It is shaping up to be another fun summer on the Monongahela River at Highmark Stadium as the Riverhounds are starting to put it together with these last two matches against Atlanta and New York.
The one thing that fans, media, coaches and players were all saying for the first two months of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds season was, this team is playing well enough to have more wins, but they just aren’t finding the back of the net enough.
Even in the U.S. Open Cup match against Columbus, they played a decent game that if they find the back of the net in the 1st half, they would have had a great chance to win that game.
Well, last weekend in Atlanta the Riverhounds put a five spot up against Atlanta United II and it felt like a weight was taken off of there shoulders with that offensive output. This past Saturday in the game against New York was a tough test and a good measuring stick for the Riverhounds to see where they are at against the stronger competition, so far, this season in the Eastern Conference.
The pace of the game was fast from the opening whistle as both teams went back and forth in the first half, but the Riverhounds were able to strike first just before halftime when Neco Brett chipped one over the head of the New York keeper.
“We didn’t create a lot in the 1st half,” said Head Coach Bob Lilley. “But, I thought we found the right balls and found some dangerous balls in the box.”
The persistence of the Riverhounds offensive attack paid off on Brett’s goal and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“As far as I know, Neco’s goal may have been the actual first shot that we recorded,” said Lilley, who then looked over at some members of the media for clarification. (Word has it that our John Krysinsky was nodding his head yes).
“We knew the payoff’s there, you have to slow them (New York) down…I think if you slow them down, take some of that space away from them, they leave themselves vulnerable and tonight we were able to take advantage.”
Early in the second half, Steeven Dos Santos headed one in on a well executed corner kick from Kenardo Forbes to put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0. dos Santos also played a big role in setting up Brett for the opening goal of the match.
“We have to see the movement of each other and I got the ball, I saw him, he was running and there was a big gap between the defender, I just put the ball there and he scored a wonderful goal,” Steevan Dos Santos said.
And on his goal in the second half he told reporters after the game, “You just run in the box and when I ran near post and the ball came straight to my head I just had to put my head into the direction of the goal.”
Thomas Vancaeyezeele, 10 minutes later, made it 3-0 Riverhounds with a header of his own and that would be all they needed as Kyle Morton recorded another clean sheet and Pittsburgh adds three more points in the standings.
“These guys give me a lot of confidence” said Kyle Morton. “They’ve been making it really easy for me the last couple games.”
The Riverhounds find themselves inside the playoff line in 10th place in the Eastern Conference Standings, one point behind St. Louis for 9th. They are also 14 points behind top seeded Tampa Bay, but they also still have played three fewer games than the Rowdies.
“We’re getting closer to where we want to be at,” said Morton. “I think the last couple results we’ve really shown who we are. Five goals last game, three goals tonight, two clean sheets and not giving up too many chances. I think it’s really two good team performances and we just keep building off of those.”
Pittsburgh will look to continue to build off the win over New York to open this three week stretch of home games as Birmingham Legion FC comes to Highmark Stadium on Saturday June 29 and then Bethlehem Steel FC will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday July 4.