Just six weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds were hanging around in seventh place – solidly in position for the postseason, but also putting the team in the uncomfortable position of maybe needing a first-round ‘play-in’ match against the tenth place club if they stayed on course at the back-end of the USL playoff picture. Not only that – a seventh-place finish would have obligated the Hounds to play on the road for all of the USL playoffs besides the play-in.
Oh, how things have changed.
Since August 23, the Riverhounds have busted off a torrid 6-0-2 record in which they have scored 12 goals while conceding just 1.
And while the Hounds were slaying all comers, the top contenders in the USL Championship Eastern Conference have all faltered, as NYRB II, Indianapolis, and Tampa Bay have all produced sub-.500 records over the past month. As a result, your Pittsburgh Riverhounds sit astride the entire Eastern Conference with sole possession of first place. They even hold a 3 point cushion over their nearest competition, Nashville SC.
For the final three games of the season, the Hounds will need to get good results while they and their fans will simultaneously keep a watchful eye on the rest of the USL East results.
The Hounds welcome Atlanta United 2 to Highmark Stadium tonight. ATL2 have been poor this season overall, but are not yet eliminated from the playoffs, as they sit 8 points below the red line. Moreover, the ATLiens have been engineering a bit of a turnaround, as the club has produced a 3-0-2 record over their last five games. The last time these two teams met, the Riverhounds humiliated them with a 5-0 beatdown, so Atlanta may also have revenge on their minds as they come to town. The Junior Five Stripes have much to play for.
The other matches on tap in USL which Hounds fans will want to pay attention to are fifth-place Indy Eleven versus Memphis, and seventh-place North Carolina FC versus third-place NYRB II. Those games, like #PITvATL, will start tonight at 7 pm EST. The second and fourth place teams, Nashville and Tampa Bay, have the week off.
For more Riverhounds preview, check out the following articles:
- John Krysinsky’s ‘Riverhounds SC Notebook’ has a brief ATL2 preview, some number-crunching on Hounds playoff point-needs, and a prediction of a player that might join the Hounds at the close of the MLS season.
- The Pittsburgh Soccer Now recap of the last #ATLvPIT matchup from four months back.
- Mark Goodman’s deep-dive preview of ATL2 in advance of their first matchup.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 5
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh Pa.
Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live Updates: PittsburghSoccerNow.com and Twitter at @RiverhoundsSC