As long we’re going to be without soccer due to COVID-19, Pittsburgh Soccer Now will be taking a look at some of the most memorable moments and games we’ve covered in the Highmark Stadium era.
We start this series on the fifth anniversary of the Hounds season opener against its in-state rivals, Harrisburg City Islanders, in what became the first of four games played that season.
This match would be the only lopsided result of what turned out to be one of the most memorable and exciting stretch of games between the two rivals, as the Hounds blitzed the City Islanders with a five-goal barrage, en route to a 5-2 win.
The match also was played in very cold conditions. The announced, paid attendance at Highmark Stadium that night was 2,244, but from looking around, there couldn’t have been more than a thousand brave souls who came out, as the weather hovered around 27 degrees at kickoff, but with the winds whipping in off the Monongahela around 13 miles per hour, it felt much colder.
PHOTO GALLERY: Riverhounds defeat Harrisburg, 5-2 (March 28, 2015)
This match’s legacy will be one where Rob Vincent and Kevin Kerr were unleashed in what was the beginning of breakout seasons.
Recently, both Kerr and Vincent talked about that memorable night.
“First couple of sessions of the preseason, we were training at Southpointe (Fieldhouse). It was a different feel. Because the previous year was so sour, we didn’t keep a lot of players. Fact that everything was new, we had a new coach in Mark Steffens. It was exactly what we needed,” Vincent explained.
“Mark brought own coaching style. It felt good. It just clicked.”
In the preseason, Steffens established that veteran Irish midfielder Danny Earls and Stephen Okai would sit in front of the back line in the top of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Although Vincent had played as a deep, holding midfielder in this first two seasons with Pittsburgh in 2013 and 2014, Steffens thought that he and Kerr could do some damage playing with more freedom on the width as part of an attacking midfield trio, with rookie Lebo Moloto in the central attacking spot.
“I was on the right. Kevin on the left. And it clicked,” Vincent said.
Sure enough, the Hounds hit Harrisburg with a flurry of goals, and started off the first-ever addition of the Keystone Derby Cup series with a big result.
You can watch the full match on YouTube.