The Riverhounds SC keep on rolling, winning four in a row and eight of its last 10 in an 8-1-1 streak. On Wednesday night in Northern New Jersey, they’re about to meet their match against current first-place NY Red Bulls II.
New York heads into the midweek match having surged ahead of Tampa Bay Rowdies for the top spot in the USL Championship winning its past three games and unbeaten in its last five (4-0-1).
This match will provide an ultimate contrast in styles, between two USL Cup winning coaches.
Leading into the first match of the season between these two sides, Mark Goodman provided his in-depth preview with a scouting report on the Baby Bulls.
LAST TIME OUT
The first meeting between these teams took place on June 22 at Highmark Stadium.
In the 3-0 victory for the Black and Gold, Neco Brett (40th minute), Steevan Dos Santos (51st minute) and Thomas Vancaeyezeele (58th minute) notched goals in a match where Pittsburgh withstood early Red Bulls pressure. Eventually the Hounds took advantage of an exposed RBII’s overloading pressure thanks to a special play from Dos Santos, who managed to keep a possession alive at midfield, then found Brett with a perfectly played ball played forward. Things opened up even more as the game wore on, and the Hounds ended the Red Bulls II’s three-game winning streak at that time.
Here’s my post game analysis from that match, which I went to great lengths to outline the contrast between Lilley’s Riverhounds and Wolyneic’s Red Bulls II.
This time around, Pittsburgh’s likely in for a tougher task. The Baby Bulls are 10-2-2 at home this season and have been winning by pouring on the goals. The loss in Pittsburgh, they were coming off playing a mid-week game and didn’t carry a full roster. The Bulls have been playing well of late in this three game winning streak, including an impressive 2-0 win against Tampa Bay. They easily broke down helpless Hartford on Saturday, 5-1, after playing with a two-man advantage for much of the second half. It’s leading scorer, and player that the Hounds back line will have to keep a close eye on will be Jared Stroud, who scored his tenth goal of the season, and bagged his 8th assist against Hartford. In the first match, Stroud was left with nothing but a few long range attempts from outside a well-defended box.
The Hounds will hope to stay disciplined and organized in defending against the frantic Red Bulls attack. Pittsburgh is the least cautioned team in USL, but have been inconsistent defensively. The Red Bulls bring relentless high pressure.
This will be a strategic test of wills.
On Saturday, Lilley opted to go with a line-up that kept some of his more common starters on the bench.
Saturday’s 3-2 win felt more one of one of those ‘uneven’ efforts we’ve seen this year, rather than a dominant performance seen the week prior in 4-0 win vs Memphis.
For the third straight match, the Hounds came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Christian Volesky worked for much of first sixty minutes at the top of the attach with the trio of Neco Brett, Anthony Velarde and Robbie Mertz as three attacking midfielders, while Sammy Kahsai and Mo Dabo sat in front of the back four as holding mids.
Saturday’s match had four regulars on the bench at the start of the match: Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Kenardo Forbes, Kevin Kerr and Steevan Dos Santos.
On Wednesday, with a fully healthy roster (only Prosper Figbe and Caleb Smith remain on the injured list as they have for most of the season), expect Pittsburgh to put together a very strong line-up for this showdown with USL Eastern Conference’s first place team.
Here’s my anticipated Riverhounds SC starting XI:
GK – Kyle Morton
D – Joe Greenspan, Tobi Adewole, Vancaeyezeele, Ryan James, Jordan Dover
MF – Kerr, Mertz, Forbes
F – Brett, Dos Santos
Wednesday, Aug. 14 | 7 p.m.
Location: MSU Soccer Park, Montclair, NJ
Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live Updates: Twitter at @RiverhoundsSC and #NYvPIT
Game Day Updates: Look for starting line-ups to be posted here around 6:45 p.m. along with in-game updates/commentary.