It was a tense back-and-forth match between two teams trying to secure a spot in the USL playoffs. But in the end, the result was a nil-nil draw, as neither the Riverhounds nor Louisville City FC could find the right moment to put their opponent away.
The draw was a bit of a letdown for the Hounds and their home fans, who have grown accustomed to success over the past ten games. Pittsburgh has strung together a 7-1-2 record over that stretch. The draw also marked the team’s 16th consecutive match without a defeat at home.
Coach Bob Lilley was disappointed in his team for not being as sharp as expected on the night. “We had some chances, but we never really passed the ball well,” Lilley said. “I just think we got outworked. We were off the mark.”
In the first half, the match was fairly even as both teams played a lot of balls long and diagonal in an effort to break the deadlock with a low-risk chance. It nearly worked, as Pittsburgh got a flurry of chances at the 35th, 43rd, and 44th minutes, but all were parried away by Louisville’s hardworking goalkeeper, Chris Hubbard to keep the score 0-0 at the half.
In the second half, Louisville played more to the feet of their players and kept possession in the center of the park, denying the Hounds the ability to organize any meaningful attack. On the other end, Louisville City were able to penetrate repeatedly into the Riverhounds box, and looked destined to score were it not for some excellent last-minute defending and shot-blocking from defenders Jordan Dover, Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, and Ryan James.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 8, 2019
Goalkeeper Kyle Morton recorded his 8th clean sheet of the 2019 season, but gave most of the credit in this match to those defenders of his for keeping the Hounds in this game.
“I thought we did really well in emergency defending,” said Morton. “We did really well in blocking shots inside the box. The back four played maybe their best game … (the game against) Ottawa may be number one, this may be number two.”
Tactically, Lilley felt it was Louisville, the USL’s defending champions, that controlled the game and the tempo throughout the match. “They’re experienced. They stretched the field, and we didn’t have the patience to keep the ball. We could have dictated the game. We’re fortunate to get out with a draw.”
Louisville outpossessed the Riverhounds 56.1% to 43.9% over the entire game. But in the second half, Lou City had nearly 70% possession, as they made the patient, clean pass over and over again, while stepping into passing lanes in the midfield to take the ball away from the Hounds, who were playing both with more desperation and more imprecision.
The game may have resulted in points dropped, but the lack of quality ultimately means that the club should feel altogether lucky to have gotten out of this match with a tie and a point. Hopefully, with a week of training, and rest, and the return of Thomas Vancaeyezeele from international duty with French Guiana, their next match in a week against the Charleston Battery might end with a more inspiring result.
FT 90+3′ That’s how it ends. There were moments, but this one finishes 0-0.
89′ The no-call of the game: Neco Brett has a good run into the box, but Lou City’s Taylor Peay bodies him off the ball in a very dangerous position. Probably the correct call from referee Elton Garcia, but the fans are displeased.
83′ SUBS – The Riverhounds Dani Rovira and Christian Volesky come on for Kevin Kerr and Steevan Dos Santos.
81′ SUB – Louisville makes its second substitution of the match as Rich Ballard comes on for Luke Spencer.
78′ Tactically, the second half has looked different for both teams. Both sides trying to play on the ground, to feet, and with shorter passes. A pretty even battle, but this one is screaming for a winner, and overall, the Hounds have had the better of the chances on the night.
73′ SUB – Lousville City subs on George Davis IV and takes off Abdou Thiam.
68′ A ball squirts from left to right across the Hounds box, and Hounds defenders block, deflect, and block it out of bounds. The corner comes to nothing. Still scoreless.
64′ Lou City get the ball in transition and LOU’s Antoine Hoppenot gets a golden opportunity from 10 yards out, but Hounds GK Kyle Morton stones him once… then twice! to keep the game level.
62′ SUB – Anthony Velarde comes on, replacing Robbie Mertz.
56′ Ryan James has a look just inside the 18-yard box and on the left, but he’s closed down and blocked; Lou City’s GK claims it.
49′ A long range but errant shot from Kenardo Forbes.
HT 0-0 at the half.
44′ Long diagonal into Steevan Dos Santos, who leaps and volleys with his right foot right into the goal … where GK Hubbard makes another incredible save.
43′ Neco Brett with a deep back-post cross to Kevin Kerr in open play, but Chris Hubbard turns it away again!
35′ Fantastic shot from the left side of the box by Neco Brett – saved by Lou City GK Chris Hubbard with an outstretched arm.
33′ A pair of yellow cards issued for the Riverhounds Jordan Dover and Louisville City’s Abdou Thiam for knockdowns on two back to back plays.
33′ Kenardo Forbes fires the first shot, and a rebound too, right into the wall. Still 0-0 here.
32′ Pat McMahon fouls his man atop the 18-yard box, and it’s a direct kick in a very close spot for the Hounds!
23′ It’s long balls and fouls so far here at Highmark. Both teams launching it long and hoping to connect. A bit of pushing and shoving at either end too; sometimes called, sometimes not. Steevan Dos Santos seems to be on referee Elton Garcia’s bad side so far tonight.
10′ Hounds started a little slow – conceded a lot of early possession. But got a good sniff around the 18 yard box for some unfulfilled crosses at the 8 and 9 minute mark. Still 0-0 along the Monongahela.
1′ We’re off and running!
It’s gameday once again Hounds fans! The Riverhounds sit fifth in the table and are looking to move up against seventh place Louisville City. Not to put the cart before the horse, but a win might get the team a boost into third place, giving the Riverhounds a better shot at hosting a playoff match in the first round of the USL Eastern Conference playoffs.
Kyle Morton; Jordan Dover, Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Ryan James; Kenardo Forbes, Mo Dabo, Robbie Mertz, Kevin Kerr; Steevan Dos Santos, Neco Brett
Chris Hubbard; Pat McMahon, Taylor Peay, Alexis Souhy, Oscar Jimenez; Sean Totsch, Napo Matsoso, Magnus Rasmussen; Abdou Thiam, Luke Spencer, Antoine Hoppenot