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FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Hartford Athletic 0

Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT. Photo Credit - John Krysinsky

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Hartford Athletic 0

Game Statistics: USL Championship Match Center


It was a night of statements.

The Riverhounds SC came away with an emphatic win at Hartford, rolling to a 3-0 triumph as Ryan James scored twice and Danny Griffin added the other goal in his homecoming at Dillon Stadium in Hartford on Friday night. 

The Hounds (6-3-1, 18 points) now surge ahead in Group F past Hartford (5-2-1, 15 points).

“I think we had good possession at times,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “We were able to create some good moments. We had some dangerous moments and we got better on the defensive side of the ball as the game went on. It was opportune finishing early, and we got stronger as the game went on. It was good to see us manage the game. I think we managed the game well in the second half to limit their chances.”

Shortly after the match started, the Hounds suffered an early setback, when its captain, Kenardo Forbes, came out of the match in the 5th minute after an apparent leg injury. (update: Hounds officials confirmed after the match they don’t know the extent of the injury). 

In the 8th minute, Hartford’s Alex Dixon broke free on the right side, forcing Hounds goalkeeper Tomas Gomez to take down Dixon. Referee Charles Murphy booked Gomez with a yellow card, as the foul occurred just outside the box on the right side.  

After the whistle blew for the foul, both teams walked toward the center circle, where they took one minute and forty six seconds stand against racism. 

Once Hartford’s failed to create anything from its free kick attempt, the Hounds found room to get forward quickly, stringing together a nice build-up of passes through the right side, and into the box.  

It ended with Anthony Velarde getting the ball at the top of the box, where he turned and found James in lots of space on the far post side. 

James neatly slotted a shot into the bottom right side of the goal to give the Hounds the early lead in the 11th minute. 

The Hounds stayed on the front foot for the entire second half, and doubled the lead 11 minutes later after Ray Lee was fouled to set up a free kick attempt from the left side just outside the box.

Robbie Mertz’s delivery into the center of the goal box came out to the feet of Griffin near the top of the 18.  Griffin sent a low shot through traffic that found its way in the open left side of goal to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 edge.

James added another goal in the 50th minute when his fellow winger on the right side, Jordan Dover chipped a ball over to the far post side.  James took a one-time full volley shot that ripped into the back of the net to give the Hounds a commanding 3-0 lead.

Coming out with a bit of a tweak, going with a 5-4-1 formation, with Steevan Dos Santos as the lone forward, and four central and attacking midfielders, Pittsburgh held 58 percent possession, connected 586 passes (Harford had 432), and converted on three of its four shots on target, as they continue to hold a comfortable margin as team with the best conversion rate in the USL Championship.  When Forbes came out, Ropapa Mensah came on, and the Hounds adjusted by dropping Dos Santos into the midfield, along with Robbie Mertz, Anthony Velarde and Danny Griffin.

“I thought Robbie Mertz, Danny Griffin and Anthony Velarde played well and worked hard to defend as a group in the midfield,” Lilley said. “Today was a good team performance. We got good play from Jordan Dover and Ryan James from out wide. I think Steevan Dos Santos and Ropapa Mensah had some good moments. We competed well and managed the game well.”

Here’s how the teams lined up to start the match.

Riverhounds SC Lineup – Tomas Gomez; Ryan James, Ray Lee (Mark Lindstrom 77′), Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Skylar Thomas (Patrick Bunk-Andersen 82′), Jordan Dover; Kenardo Forbes (Ropapa Mensah 10′), Danny Griffin, Anthony Velarde (Mark Forrest 82′), Robbie Mertz; Steevan Dos Santos (Dakota Barnathan 77′)

Subs not used: Danny Vitiello, Lukas Fernandes

The Hounds will return to action on Tuesday when they host Loudoun United FC at Highmark Stadium.

Look for my Takeaways/Grades to be posted on Saturday morning. 




GOAL – Ryan James

ASSIST – Jordan Dover


GOAL – Danny Griffin


Goal: Ryan James,

Assist: Anthony Velarde



Second Half ends, Hartford Athletic 0, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 3.

90+2‘ – Robbie Mertz (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90+2‘ – Foul by Danny Barrera (Hartford Athletic).

90‘ – Jordan Dover (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90‘ – Foul by Aiden Mesias (Hartford Athletic).

89‘ – Attempt missed. Hugh Alexander Dixon (Hartford Athletic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ever Guzmán.

81′ – SUBS – Riverhounds

Patrick Bunk-Andersen & Mark Forrest IN

76′ – SUBS – Riverhounds

the first second half subs for the Hounds coming in:
Dakota Barnathan and Mark Lindstrom IN
Ray Lee and Steevan Dos Santos OUT 

69; – Substitution, Hartford Athletic. Aiden Mesias replaces Tyreke Johnson.

Been interesting to see Dos Santos, in the absence of Forbes, be the veteran calming force in the central midfield for large portions of this match, along with Griffin, Mertz and Velarde

59′ – SUB –  Hartford

Ever Guzmán replaces Markus Naglestad.

56′ – Attempt blocked. Sam Strong (Hartford Athletic) header from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Danny Barrera with a cross

48′ – GOAL – 3-0 – RIVERHOUNDS – Ryan James!

Ryan James open on the far post — and a full volley that goes right into the back netting! Nice assist with chip over the top from Jordan Dover.

47′ – Alex Dixon gets forward into space for Hartford, but he’s closed down well by Hounds defenders — and shot is wide off side of net.

Affirmation of the Hounds dominance appears on the stat sheet…


Goals: Ryan James (11′) D. Griffin (22′)’
Maybe the Hounds best half of the season.
Dominated in almost every phase, even after loss of captain Kenardo Forbes.

45′ – Four added minutes for the end of the 1st half — might be one of the lower stoppage time numbers for a Hounds game this year.

42′ – SUB:  Injured Harry Schwartz comes off for Hartford. Alejandro Lara in for Hartford.

37; – Mensah goes way too wide!!  Right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Raymond Lee.

26′ – Attempt blocked. Ropapa Mensah (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan James with a cross.

24′ – Mensah gets forward and into the box — and nearly scores but deflected shot goes wide left.

22” – GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS SC 2-0 — Danny Griffin

the kid from Connecticut and former Providence standout scores in his return to New England as ball come out to edge of box after free kick. Nice low shot through traffic.

17′ – Foul — Ray Lee gets brought down. Free kick coming for Hounds in close range.

11′ – GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS SC – Ryan James

Tremendous build up — and Hounds score on first shot chance. USL Championship’s best conversion rate gets even better.

10′ – Attempt saved. Tyreke Johnson (Hartford Athletic) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is saved in the bottom left corner.

9′ – PLAY IS STOPPED — Players go to center circle for 1:46 moment to come together to take a stand against Racism.

8′ – YELLOW CARD – Hounds GK Tomas Gomez comes out of box to deny Dixon.

Ropapa Mensah comes in for Forbes.

6′ – well, there’s a shocker — Kenardo Forbes rips his armband off and comes off the field. I guess he had a lingering issue he tried to play through.

Lineup thoughts:

Remembering now that Anthony Velarde had a nice game at Hartford last year. He’s back in the starting XI tonight as is Ray Lee who was with the Athletic last year.

Also, with the personnel in the line-up, it looks more like a 5-4-1 for the Hounds tonight. Dos Santos likely the lone forward. Maybe Ropapa Mensah can be that super sub the Hounds have been lacking when they need it, a role he played a lot with Nashville SC.

Line-ups will be posted here by 6:30 p.m. followed by my commentary and in-game updates.

Here’s my projected Hounds Starting XI:

GK:   Tomas Gomez

Center Backs:    Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Skylar Thomas, Nick Lindstrom

Wingers:   Ryan James, Jordan Dover

Central Midfielders:   Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz, Danny Griffin

Forwards:  Steevan Dos Santos, Ropapa Mensah


The two teams look to gain an advantage in Group F, as they both sit atop it with 16 points heading into Friday’s match. The Hounds will play Hartford, second in Group F by virtue of goal differential tiebreaker, three times in their final seven games.

Pittsburgh will look to continue its dominance in Group F action, boasting a 4-1-0 record against group opponents. In their last match, their final non-group contest of the season, the Hounds tied Saint Louis FC, 2-2, at Highmark Stadium.

It’s a very important game for us,” Hartford midfielder Danny Barrera told the Journal Inquirer’s Adam Betz.

“It’s going to be a good test for us. I know they’ve been watching us, we’ve been watching them.”

Barrera figures to be on one side of a duel between two of the league’s best playmakers. On the other is the Hounds’ Kenardo Forbes, who sits one ahead of Barrera with seven assists this season and has cemented his place among the elite players in the league’s history by becoming its all-time assists leader this season.

Their presence – and those of other notable attacking performers on either side – should make for an entertaining game at least.

“I think they’ve been scoring goals and pretty stingy defensively,” said Hounds Head Coach Bob Lilley to media this week. “I think we have the personnel to go there and get a result, but we’ve got to take care of the ball and slow them down. Typical stuff, but we want to be on the front foot.”

Meanwhile, Hartford Athletic tied Loudoun United FC, 2-2, last time out after a late goal (89’) from Hugh Alexander Dixon secured the point for the club.

Last season, Hartford’s inaugural USL Championship campaign, the teams met twice. In the match at Highmark Stadium, the Hounds defeated Hartford, 3-1, after two second-half goals helped the Hounds pull away late. In the match at Dillon Stadium, the Hounds used three first-half goals to take control early, and defeated Hartford, 4-2.


Pos. P W L T GD Pts Form
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 9 5 3 1 14 16
Hartford Athletic
Hartford Athletic 7 5 1 1 5 16
New York Red Bulls II
New York Red Bulls II 8 2 6 0 -3 6
Loudoun United FC
Loudoun United FC 7 1 4 2 -8 5
Philadelphia Union II
Philadelphia Union II 6 1 4 1 -14 4


Preview: Hartford Athletic, Part One

On the road in pandemic USL

Former HS teammates, Dakota Barnathan & Danny Vitiello, reunite as Riverhounds

Bob Lilley Press Conference: Week 8 at Hartford Athletic

Hartford’s Dillon Stadium: A work in progress

Athletes lead the way in saying: Black Lives Matter

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for 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 US. 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).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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