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FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Indy Eleven 0

Dani Rovira's ball sails wide early in the first half of Pittsburgh's 3-0 win. (Ed Thompson photo)

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Indy Eleven 0

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Indy Eleven 0

When things are going your way, everything seems to fall into place. And now, the Riverhounds SC are sitting at the top of the table.

The Hounds defeated Indy Eleven 3-0 in a match that was delayed for more than an hour, as captain Kenardo Forbes scored twice, Neco Brett added the game’s opening goal on a stinging free kick and the Hounds earned a club-record seventh straight shut out, at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night.

With the win, Pittsburgh (now 16-4-10, 58 points), moves into a first place tie with Nashville SC in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings. Indy remains just two points back, with 56 points.

POST MATCH REACTION

The Riverhounds got the breaks they needed as well, shaking off a sluggish start in the first nine minutes.

In the fifth minute, center back Joe Greenspan’s attempt to play a header back to goalkeeper Kyle Morton nearly turned into an early 1-0 lead for the visitors.

Dane Kelly, the USL Championship’s all-time leading scorer was there to intercept the ball and had an open goal to shoot from the right side — and banged his shot off the left post.

Thanks to the aid of the weather delay, the Hounds were able to regroup.

After waiting more than an hour, they came out and played the final 81 minutes plus looking like a team that’s in the midst of an impressive shut out streak and making an impressive run into first place.

“It really helped us get focused,” Neco Brett said.

Immediately after the delay, Pittsburgh looked like the more focused side, stringing together passes with precision, playing with intensity that may have been lacking in the early going.

“We needed it,” Bob Lilley, Riverhounds head coach, said. “It was good to get the rain delay. I thought we started well in then first three minutes, and then we already seemed to be on our heels. They get in behind us once already, so it was good to get them in the locker room and re-focused because I’m not sure we were all there right at the start.  We came out with a lot more energy and re-committed and re-focused.”

Playing in left winger spot, Dani Rovira made the most of his playing time, getting only his fifth regular season start, drew a foul after a solid build-up of possession in the 15th minute.

Neco Brett stepped up to take the free kick, and made sure Indy’s goalkeeper Even Newton had no chance to stop.

“As a striker you should be able to hit the target from that distance., “Brett said of his team-leading 11th tally of the season. “I felt confident, so I told Kenny let me have this one and he was like go for it.”

Indy continued to control possession, but Pittsburgh, the league’s best club in conversion rate, made the most of another attempt from outside the box.

This time it was Kenardo Forbes, who drove a shot into the upper left side of goal in the 40th minute.

In the 71st minute, Forbes took a perfectly placed spinning, lofted ball from Brett, and made some more magic, even as he was bottled up by one of the best defenders in the USL Championship in recent years, Karl Ouimette.

“I had a different view, he’s not letting me go on my right so I had to go on my left, so I go to my left and I try to shoot it that’s how we practice and it went it so it was good for the team,” Forbes described his drag swerve move but was most concerned about the result. “It was nice to get a victory plus a clean sheet.  Indy is a really good team so for us to get a 3-0 win and a clean sheet, moving in the right direction.”

“That goal, that’s one of his favorite high school moves.  He’s been doing it since high school,” Brett said of his fellow Jamaican teammate. “So in the moment he pulls it off like 99 percent of the time he’s gonna pull off that trick you know what I mean and he did it really well he got a brilliant goal.”

Forbes, who leads the team in assists, stepped up on this night to deliver a few pretty big goals.

“Not much to be said we just need those goals.  It was a big game and I feel like I need to step up, it was my turn to step up. Luckily, I scored my first verse in the USL, five years.”

The match was fairly even in the stat sheet (shots were 10-8 Pittsburgh with slight edge, 4-3 on shots on target), it was Pittsburgh though who came through to create the moments that they needed to surge into first place.

“Sometimes games will have an ebb and flow, and when we hit our good spells we looked dangerous and aggressive.  There were probably six to eight really good chances for both teams and a couple of all-mosts. We got a break on the mistake early and were really fortunate not to be down 1-0.”

Pittsburgh’s wonder strikes from Brett and Forbes weren’t enough to see Lilley walk away completely pleased.

“I’m more interested in the execution. And what we do when we get behind the defense,” Lilley said, but didn’t completely downplay the goals. To me, they were great strikes. We picked a good night to bring that offense out. But I’m more interested in the final pass, and getting into the final position to have clear cut opportunities to score.”

And Lilley added a little jab.

“Although, I am happy they’ll have something for their highlight collection.”

Indy’s Tyler Pasher’s speed and dynamic play-making ability was on display a few times with a few shot opportunities, and Kelly had more than one chance to put one past Hounds goalkeeper Kyle Morton, who picked up the shutout, his sixth straight clean sheet, and the team’s seventh.

Morton’s biggest stop came when he denied Kelly’s header chance in the 26th minute.

“They’re pretty explosive even though they’re not high up in the goal totals. They have a lot of pace and a lot of guys that can score,” Lilley added on the opponents that were ahead of his team in the standings most of the season. “All year they have scored late goals and won every tight game, you can either sit back and hope they don’t hurt you and maybe steal a goal or you can play.”

ED THOMPSON PHOTO GALLERY

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We’ll have more from this match in the coming day with our post-match reaction and analysis/player grades articles to come.  

MATCHDAY UPDATES AND COMMENTARY 

10:06 – FINAL – HOUNDS WIN 3-0.
Jump into first place — in a tie with Nashville SC — as both clubs now have 58 points.
10:04 – 89′ | Final sub for Hounds: Uchenna Uzo in for Neco Brett.
10:02 – 88′ | Only thing in doubt now is Hounds shut out streak as final moments play out. Brett gets a good shot from top of box — and Newton brings it down.
9:52 – 77′ | Indy corner — header bangs off left post.
9:50 – 76′ | Indy trying to get one back — counter gets to Dane Kelly with Greenspan to beat — and Adewole comes in to take shot off his noggin.
9:47 – 71′ | GOAL- Riverhounds!! It’s now 3-0.
Kenardo Forbes bangs it in from a very difficult angle.
A piece of splendid Wizardry if you ask me! Wow.
Neco Brett sets it up with brilliant ball to his captain and fellow Jamaican.
The great players step up in big moments. Forbes has been brilliant tonight. 
9:43 – 67′ | Pasher now witha header chance, but it goes over bar.
9:41 – 66′ | Indy pings it around — and new sub Eugene Stavikov has room and gets a look at a shot from 18, but Morton is there to pounce on it for another save.
9:38 – 63′ | Brett with well-timed run — gets to ball that scoots past Indy GK Newton. Takes a very tough angled shot from left side and bangs it off the left post. Indy carries it out of trouble from there.
9:34 – 60′ | Jordan Dover steps in with a well-timed interception, and is knocked down by the intended recipient, Garcia, who earns the first yellow card of match.
9:30 – 56 ‘| Pasher on left side — stutter step move on Greenspan, the delivers a dangerous ball that gets through the goal box — but untouched. Hounds dodge a bullet there.
9:25 – Morton comes way out but Kelly beats him to ball. Kelly needed time to retreat to get ball. Had no real shot attempt as Hounds defenders fill in box. His ball in box is tracked down by Kenardo Forbes. Hounds have scrambled few times tonight, but recovered well there
9:20 – 2nd half has started
Key halftime stats:
Possession: Indy 56% | Pit 44%
Shots: Pit 8-4 | on target Pit 3-2
Passing Acc: Indy 87% | Pit 83%
That last stat pretty impressive. High level stuff here. Both teams are sharp in possession and creating chances.
Hounds have made most of theirs
As of now (9:14 pm EST) here’s where things stand at top USL Eastern Conf standings:
 
Nashville up 2-0 on Loudoun Utd 75′ (Nash: 58 pts)
Pittsburgh up 2-0 on Indy 45′ (Pitt: 58 pts)
Tampa – Lou City play to 2-2 draw (Tampa: 57 pts)
Indy: (56 pts)
NY Red Bulls II (Idle 57 pts)

9:05 – 45′ ++ | ensuing corner — and Neco Brett smashes on loose ball but Newton there for a quick reaction save.

9:04 45’+ | Hounds on breakaway — Brett feeds Forbes who has shot blocked.

9:02 – 44′ | Dane Kelly with a chance in the box, but goes way over bar

8:58 – 40′ | GOALAZO!!!!! RIVERHOUNDS – Kenardo Forbes

Wow!
Bang!!
Forbes drills it into the upper 90 from 25 yards out to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.
Another WONDER STRIKE. From almost same spot as Neco Brett’s shot.

8:53 – 36′ | Former Hound Tyler Pasher just nutmegged Kevin Kerr, then turned toward goal at top of the arc where he drilled a shot that forced Hounds GK Kyle Morton into a save. Dynamic play from Pasher — showing why he’s getting the start at top of the attack and Indy’s top scorer.

8:46 – 29′ | Wild sequence for attacking Hounds.

Dos Santos plays through ball to Dabo, who beats GK Newton to ball — and from tough angle plays it in to Brett, who was double teamed and plays it back to Dos Santos, but shot goes awry. Nice work by Dabo to keep it alive.

8:42 – 26′ | Indy with a great chance. Garcia on left edge of box, opts to play ball to far post area for Dane Kelly — header was heading inside right post but Kyle Morton with dynamite, quick reaction save!

Kerr and Forbes are playing deeper as holding mids, with Dabo up higher in the central midfield. Yes, you’re reading that correctly.

8:33 – 16′ | GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS! Neco Brett (1-0 Pittsburgh) 16th minute

A WONDER STRIKE on free kick from Neco Brett from 28 yards out.

After terrific build-up, Dani Rovira was fouled.

8:27 – Play has resumed!

warm-ups are done, and as anticipated, we’re about ready to get this one back started in the 9th minute…
Indy had the better of the first nine minutes, so maybe the break will be good for the Hounds to get a positive restart.

8:02 – getting word that they’ll be resuming play at 8:27 p.m.

7:13 – WEATHER DELAY

7:10 – Dane Kelly the USL Championship’s all time leading scorer gets a GOLDEN chance — breaks into left side of box to get ball — gets behind Hounds GK Kyle Morton and Joe Greenspan who mis-communicated. But Kelly bangs and open net opportunity off left post!!

7:06 – as soon as game kicks off – it starts to pour. Go figure.

7:00 p.m. – As we prepare for start of match, sky is very dark, but still no signs of lightning or any raindrops.

Most of the storms in area are expected to be scattered.

6:35 p.m. – Riverhounds Starting XI:

Kyle Morton (GK)

D – Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele

Wingers/MF – Dani Rovira, Jordan Dover

Central MF – Kenardo Forbes, Kevin Kerr, Mo Dabo

F – Neco Brett, Steevan Dos Santos

available bench players:

Austin Pack (GK), Uchenna Uzo, Todd Pratzner, Noah Franke, Robbie Mertz, Anthony Velarde, Christian Volesky

Indy Eleven’s Starting XI 

Evan Newton (GK)

D – Mitchell Osmond, Karl Ouimette, Neveal Hackshaw, Ayoze Garcia

MF – Tyler Gibson, Drew Connor, Macauley King, Kiya Kic

F – Tyler Pasher, Dane Kelly

Indy’s available subs off bench… 

Jordan Farr (GK), Nicolas Perea, Matt Watson, Eugene Starikov, Christian Novoa, Gabriel Rodriguez, Kenny Walker

PSN RIVERHOUNDS COVERAGE THIS WEEK

Riverhounds SC Notebook: Logjam at the top of USL’s Eastern Conference

Player Grades & Analysis: Historical defensive streak continues

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 1, Memphis 0

Player Grades and Tactical Notes from #NSHvPIT

MOST UP-TO-DATE STANDINGS 

NY Red Bulls II earned a point against Charleston Battery on Friday night, to surge, ever so slightly ahead in the standings.

Heading into Saturday night’s action, the Baby Bulls (57 points) now have a one point lead over Tampa Bay and Indy Eleven (56 points). Meanwhile, the Hounds and Nashville SC sit two behind (55 points).

Click here to keep up with the latest standings as games play out this weekend.

INJURY REPORT 

There are no players on the Riverhounds SC injury report

 

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the United States. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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