FINAL: Riverhounds SC 1 vs Memphis 0
The Riverhounds SC keep flexing its defensive muscles.
On Tuesday night, they post yet another shut-out, a club record sixth straight clean sheet in beating Memphis 901 FC, 1-0, at Auto Zone Park on Tuesday evening.
The win catapults Pittsburgh into the top four spot in the USL Eastern Conference table (sort of) which has become a logjam of teams all positioning for the top spot. The Hounds also officially clinched a spot in the USL Cup playoffs.
“We have to focus on Indy Eleven this Saturday, but it is a nice accomplishment to make the playoffs again,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “The biggest key for us today was that we showed composure. If we didn’t have that patience or composure we needed, we may not have had the energy to get that game to the finish line.
The Hounds (now at 55 points) are tied with Nashville, while three teams, including Saturday’s opponent Indy Eleven, along with Tampa Bay and NY Red Bulls II all have 56 points.
Pittsburgh scored early in the match, in the 15th minute, as Joe Greenspan’s header from a Robbie Mertz corner kick was the difference in this match.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 25, 2019
The match was played on even terms throughout, and even Memphis carrying most of the possession. The Hounds, playing conservatively for much of the remainder of the match, had to withstand a number of set pieces and crosses into the box, but as they’ve done for much of the past six matches, kept a solid organizational shape, confidently defended the box and played mistake-free with the exception of a few fouls conceded.
“The key tonight was a good first half. The second half, I would’ve liked to be more ambitious to get the second goal sooner,” Lilley added.
“I thought we defended well, but I think we could’ve been more assertive to try to get a second goal. It was a good road performance, and I’m happy for them.”
Riverhounds SC returns home to battle Indy Eleven (17-6-5) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Highmark Stadium, which will mark their third meeting this year. The Hounds earlier defeated the Eleven in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action, but lost to the foe in regular season play.
Matt Gajtka and John Krysinsky shared post-game reaction on Pittsburgh Post-Game.
FINAL | Pittsburgh wins it, 1-0.
85′ | Memphis continues to possess. Create another corner. A few free kicks too, but Hounds are defending the box better then ever.
80′ | Final sub for Pittsburgh.
Dos Santos comes in. Volesky out.
76’| Mertz in middle of things again. Getting forward, sets up free kick opportunity. Dangerous ball in from Forbes to Volesky, but 901 FC clears it away.
*NOTE – Hounds have still not surrendered a goal since 74′ of 5-0 loss to North Carolina FC on August 17. It’s now been more than 500 minutes since they’ve allowed a goal.
73′ | SUB – HOUNDS
OUT – Sammy Kahsai IN – Kenardo Forbes
71′ | Another free kick chance for Memphis — and this time Doyle gets head on it, but sails away from goal.
63′ | Mertz in open space looks like he’s tripped up — but no call. Replay shows may have went down on own.
60′ | Hounds make their first substitution.
OUT Anthony Velarde IN Mouhamed Dabo
58′ | Mertz trips up Desilva — and earns a yellow card. Memphis gets dangerous free kick chance, but it’s cleared away.
47 ‘ | Sammy Kahsai sends a nice vertical ball forward for Volesky, but Memphis keeper Jeff Caldwell beats the Hounds forward to the ball.
46 | Desliva gets a shot on target as second half begins. Ends up a weak shot that’s easy for Hounds GK Austin Pack to handle.
HALFTIME STATS OF NOTE:
Possession: Pgh 54/46
Shots: 2-1 Mem (1-1 on target)
Crosses: 5-3 Mem
HALF | RIVERHOUNDS 1-0
Pittsburgh is clearly in command of the match, but they’ve been sitting back a lot after the early goal. Memphis had a free kick opportunity and that’s about it.
Not an overwhelmingly dominant performance by Hounds through 45 min, but they’ve been in control. And that conversion rate, well they’re 100%.
45 ‘ | Kerr showing his quality at the end of the half, with a terrific ball forward to Volesky, but the Hounds forward can’t corral it for a shot attempt.
35′ | Memphis with first shot on frame, on free kick. Hounds GK Austin Pack handles it with ease.
28’ | The Hounds conceding possession after the goal. Memphis knocking it around midfield, but not finding much room beyond that to do anything.
Here’s a look at the Riverhounds goal…
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 25, 2019
15 | GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS – Joe Greenspan
First corner of the match — and Hounds convert. Greenspan heads it in. Service in from Robbie Merts.
7:49 p.m. – Pretty close to the predicted line-up …
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 24, 2019
We’ll update the starting line-ups here at 7:45 p.m.
John Krysinsky’s anticipated starting XI:
GK – Austin Pack
D – Joe Greenspan, Todd Pratzner, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Ryan James, Dani Rovira
MF – Sammy Kahsai, Kevin Kerr, Anthony Velarde, Steevan Dos Santos
F – Christian Volesky
More on #MEMvPIT
This is a return to Memphis for the Hounds, as the teams played for 45 minutes in May at Auto Zone Park, with Pittsburgh taking a 1-0 lead on a Christian Volesky goal. The teams never came back out to resume second half play due to a weather delay that turned into a cancellation. Due to USL Championship rules, a game must be played for 70 minutes before it’s declared official.
The Hounds can clinch playoff berth with its next victory.
In their first (official) meeting this season, the Hounds dominated the match, winning 4-0 on Aug. 3 at Highmark Stadium. Tobi Adewole (27’), Robbie Mertz (45’+2), Jordan Dover (64’) and Steevan Dos Santos (69’) notched goals for the Black and Gold.
The Hounds have recorded five straight shutouts, logging a 3-0-2 record during this stretch. The team will attempt to record six straight clean sheets for the first time in team history this Tuesday.
On the other hand, Memphis is one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. The USL Championship newcomer carries a four-game winning streak into the midweek showdown.
The Hounds record this season on short turnarounds in league play this season is not very good, especially on the road. They do have two mid-week wins in home matches in the Open Cup (vs Dayton Dutch Lions, 3-0, and Indy Eleven, 2-1).
But a return match at Indy just three days later resulted in 2-1 loss. A Sunday match at North Carolina, just on two days rest after a 1-0 win on Fourth of July at home against Bethlehem Steel FC, turned into a loss too, not getting a shot on target against a non-playoff team, Charlotte Independence. disaster, as the Hounds lost 5-0.
In August, after a mid-week win at New York Red Bulls II, another match played on just two days rest, Pittsburgh were pummeled by North Carolina FC.
They did win that Red Bulls II match on the road, but that was after three days rest.
Anyone notice a trend here?
The Hounds, who hold a game at hand against most of the teams in front of them, sans Saturday’s opponent Indy Eleven, hope to buck that trend with a win that will thrust them into the coveted top four.
Riverhounds Coverage on PSN
Tuesday, Sept. 24 | 8 p.m.
AutoZone Park, Memphis, TN
Plus our friends at Piper’s Pub (on the South Side) will be showing the match!)
Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live Updates: Twitter at @RiverhoundsSC and #MEMvPIT
Post-game: John Krysinsky (@pghsoccerscribe will join Matt Gajtka (@MattGajtka) on Pittsburgh Post-Game to discuss this match.