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FINAL: Riverhounds SC 4, NYRB II 1

They knew what was coming. They were prepared.

The frenetic and crazy pace still hit the Riverhounds like a ton of bricks, though.

Take midfielder Robbie Mertz’s word for it: “When you play Red Bulls II, you kind of know what you’re getting right off the bat. But already five minutes into the game, I was already blowing; thinking ‘This is intense.'”

“There was no ‘feeling out’ period.”

Coach Bob Lilley put it another way: “They’re hard to play against, because they create chaos.”

In just 3 minutes of play, the Red Bulls had won a ball and put a chance onto goal; Steeven Dos Santos was fouled; the Riverhounds took it the length of the field and got a ball to Ropapa Mensah in the penalty box where he was brought down for a PK opportunity; and Robbie Mertz converted the opportunity for a goal.

Had the entire game continued at that pace, the match would have concluded 37-36 with all 22 players being red-carded.

Thankfully, the match did settle down. Following the goal, a more intricate and physical first half ended at 1-0. In the second half, the Riverhounds stretched the field and played longer and down the wings, resulting in three more goals between the 61st minute and the 80th minute. NYRB II would get a late garbage-time goal due to the Hounds letting down their guard a little, but the 4-1 victory was an honest and truthful indication of the tactical and technical advantages the Riverhounds displayed in the match.

There was a distinct difference with the way the team executed in the first and second half.

Coach Lilley explained, “In the first half, we tried to play a lot of straight balls into Steeven in crowded areas. We just weren’t good enough with the game plan in the first half.”

As the Red Bulls pressed the Riverhounds high, or flooded the central midfield with bodies, they created pressure and difficulty for the Hounds in making passes and creating fluidity. That kept the first half choppy, physical, and a little sloppy at times.

The Riverhounds found a bit more success stretching the field in the second half, though. Said Lilley, “(In the first half) we were trying to play little balls into where all their numbers and pressure were. The minute we started playing higher up the pitch to them, it works. It worked against them last year and the year before too.”

It showed. The Hounds second goal came in the 61st minute, and it starts with Tommy Vancaeyezeele (#17) knocking a big diagonal ball (the long green arrow) to Ryan James (#7). James is one-on-one, dribbles through the defense, and slots a pass to the back post where Robbie Mertz (#14)is there to finish it off for the 2-0 goal. Here’s the diagram:

The third Hounds goal is very similar, but without switching sides. In the 65th minute, newly acquired defender Ray Lee (#23) wins a ball deep down the left flank. Before the Baby Bulls can counter-press and sow chaos, he flips a deep pass (the long yellow arrow) over the shoulder of the deep-running Ropapa Mensah (#3). He beats his man and essentially puts the game away for the Hounds. To the chalkboard again:

The Hounds added a fourth goal in the 80th minute off an inbound from Ryan James that turns into a nifty give-and-go between Anthony Velarde and Dani Rovira.

I could talk about the late goal the Hounds conceded to give the game its 4-1 final scoreline, but I won’t because it was dark and the goal happened at the far end of the stadium from where the press box has been temporarily relocated. But also because the story was already written by that time.

And ultimately, it sent the message that despite a defeat to NYRB II in their last match, the Riverhounds can handle any and every team in the league if they execute properly.

“It was a good win,” Lilley beamed to the assembled and dutifully mask-wearing reporters. “We let them off the hook a little in New York (with last week’s 2-1 defeat). But I’m really happy with what we did tonight. We knew it wouldn’t be easy.”

But with a good game plan and careful execution, the Riverhounds eventually found a way to make things look easy.

Image c/o Chris Cowger and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Post-Game Interview Video

Minute to Minute Match Summary

FULL TIME. Riverhounds beat NYRB II, 4-1.

90+2′ NYRB GOAL. Antouma Toure is fed in the box. He spins and fires for a goal, and the shutout is broken. Bob’s not gonna like that.

80′ PITTSBURGH GOAL. 4-0 Hounds. Free kick off a foul delivered by Kenardo Forbes. The ball rattles around a bit between the two teams on the left flank in NY’s third for a bit before coming loose to Anthony Velarde. Velarde dribbles past a man on a give and go from Dani Rovira, gets a fortuitous bounce off a defender’s boot right into his path and slots it home low past the keeper to the left side of goal. Hounds lead 4-0.

78′ Pittsburgh Substitution. Mensah off, Lukas Fernandes on.

78′ Pittsburgh Substitution. Griffin off, Anthony Velarde on.

76′ Hydration break.

67′ NYRB Substitution. Elney off, Cherif Dieye

66′ NYRB Substitution. Clark off, Daniel Edelman on.

65′ PITTSBURGH GOAL. 3-0, Hounds. Ropapa Mensah receives a pass from Ray Lee deep and just goes mano y mano against Preston Kilwien. Shakes him loose, gets separation, slams the ball in the back of the next to the right side past the GK. Mensah goal, Lee assist.

61′ PITTSBURGH GOAL. 2-0, Hounds. Ropapa receives a diagonal ball on the left side just before the 18-yard box and passes it ahead to Ryan James. James puts the ball over in front of his body a deft heel flick and fires a ball across the box. Robbie Mertz is lurking back post and finishes cleanly! Hounds go up 2-0! Mertz Goal, James assist.

59′ The Hounds have been much more in control for the first 15 minutes of the half. Passing is better and more accurate, Red Bulls seem to be chasing more.

55′ NY’s Chris Lema down with a head or neck injury. He’ll head off to the touch line for a quick evaluation before returning.

51′ Long ball over the top to Ropapa Mensah down the left flank. He dribbles defender Joe Fala but hears Robbie Mertz calling for it as the defense reorganizes in the box. Mensah clips a lovely cross to Mertz, who dribbles back and feeds Ropapa. Mensah’s shot is deflected out by a defender. The subsequent corner ends up with nothing.


NYRB Substitution. Bounthong off,ย  Preston Kilwien on.

NYRB Substitution. Boateng off,ย  Edgardo Rito on. Boateng had a cut on his head at the end of the first half, so a likely injury sub, or at least a precaution in subbing him


We’re back.

HT. Hounds 1, NYRB II 0.

45+2′ Dos Santos heads a ball near midfield and gets undercut by an NYRB player. Foul, restart, turnover Hounds.

44′ Referee blows whistle as two heads come together. Tolkien and Mertz. Mertz is back up after a minute. Tolkin a little slower – he’ll walk off to the sideline for an obligatory break.

42′ PIT YELLOW CARD. Steevan Dos Santos is booked for getting too rough on Tolkin.

42′ Red Bulls have a man down – defender John Tolkin.

37′ Robbie Mertz goes tearing through the center of the field and ends up at the top right of the box and fires a blast … into the Paul Child Stand.

35′ Corner – Mertz to Ropapa for a header, but it ends up right in the mitts of NY GK Wallis Lapsley

34′ Lacava breaks free and fires a diagonal shot from the right side of the box to the left-top corner of the goal, over Gomez’ outstretched hand, but wide and high by just a few feet.

32′ Red Bulls have been creating chances. Their passing and pressure has forced the Hounds into some difficult situations. Apparently, the audio being picked up of Bob Lilley expresses clear dismay from the Hounds head coach.

31′ Hydration break.

30′ Tomas Gomez makes an awkward Cruyff turn and nearly coughs up a loose ball to NYRB in his own 18. But he unloads it safely out of bounds.

26′ Ropapa Mensah gets a loose ball in the final third and drills a shot – wide and high.

23′ Jordan Dover takes a shot from 30 yards out – skews it well left of goal.

20′ A lot of back and forth – bouncing head-tennis balls, long clearances – but little possession of note for the past 10 minutes. Pace has settled from the frenetic start.

15′ PITTSBURGH YELLOW CARD – Skylar Thomas gets a card for physical play.

9′ Lacava fed a bouncing ball inside the box, almost at the six, hits it without force and Gomez dives and gathers easily. But I think it’s the kid’s first pro shot.

6′ Gomez slaps away another shot from his right; the rebound skitters out and NYRB has a corner.

3′ PITTSBURGH GOAL – PK, Robbie Mertz

Robbie Mertz puts away the PK to his left, and the Hounds are up 1-0 just seconds after the opening whistle.

2′ NY YELLOW CARD. NYRB II’s Bounthong goes into the book for his denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

2′ Mertz slips a pass into the box; the Red Bulls Samad Bounthong goes to ground and takes out Ropapa Mensah – and it’s a penalty!

1′ Red Bull gets a shot on Tomas Gomez in just under 20 seconds, parried away.

1′ And we’re underway at Highmark!


Starting XI

Riverhounds SC Starting XI

Tomas Gomez;

Ray Lee, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Skylar Thomas;

Ryan James, Danny Griffin, Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz, Jordan Dover;

Steevan Dos Santos, Ropapa Mensah

Red Bull New York II

Wallis Lapsley;

John Tolkin, Joe Fala, Roy Boateng, Samad Bounthong;

Chris Lema, Barry Sharifi, Caden Clark, Deri Corfe;

Sebastian Elney, Jake Lacava



Pre-game Coverage from PSN

Read up on the Riverhounds with our coverage of the USL this past week:

Preview: Hounds face NYRB II again in pivotal match


Video: 1-v-1 With Riverhounds SC Defender Thomas Vancaeyezeele


Bob Lilley Press Conference Transcript: Week 5 vs. New York


Seeking depth at outside back, Hounds re-sign Ray Lee


We’ve learned that USL needs Pro-Rel

Also, checkout the Mongoals podcast for more great Riverhounds coverage:

Weather Forecast: 83 F at kickoff, 0% chance of precipitation

Date: Saturday, Aug. 8
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA
Television: 22 The Point
Streaming:ย ESPN+
Live Statistics:ย USL Championship Match Center
Twitter Hashtag: #PITvNY


Match Notes

  • Defenders Ryan James, Skylar Thomas and Thomas Vancaeyezeele have played every minute this season for the Hounds.
  • Skylar Thomas reached a milestone last week, as the defender played in his 100th USL game last Saturday.
  • On August 5, the Hounds announced the signing of defender Ray Lee. Lee previously competed for the club in 2018. This will be his third season playing under head coach Bob Lilley. He also played for Lilley in 2017 with the Rochester Rhinos.
  • Midfielder Kenardo Forbes became the all-time assist leader in USL history last game, adding his 37th and 38th assists against Philadelphia Union 2.
  • Forbes currently has 24 assists as a Riverhound, putting him third on the club all-time, tied with Matthew Dallman. Second on the club list is David Flavius with 25 assists. The Riverhounds all-time assist leader is the recently-retired Kevin Kerr, with 27 assists.
  • Last week, Red Bulls Midfielder Cherif Dieye recorded his first professional goal, while midfielders Tapiwa Shumba and Kenny Hot made their professional debuts.
  • Red Bull winger Deri Corfe was named Week 5 USL Championship Player of the Week after his performances against Union II and Pittsburgh.
  • Red Bull Academy Product Jake Lacava signed his first professional contract with NYRB II on July 3, 2020. He has yet to make his professional debut.


Match Summary

Coming soon


Image of Samad Bounthong c/o Red Bull II via twitter

Mark Asher Goodman is a writer for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, covering the Riverhounds, the Pitt Men's and Women's teams, and youth soccer. He also co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line with Rabbi and Red.' He has written in the past for the Washington Post, Denver Post, The Athletic, and American Soccer Analysis. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

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