When Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob Lilley met with the media for a Zoom call on Monday, I was provided the opportunity to ask the first question.
So, I got right to it, asking him about the status of the Riverhounds SC’s captain, veteran Kenardo Forbes, the USL Championship’s all-time assists leader, following Forbes leaving Friday night’s match early.
“It’s a quad injury,” Lilley stated. “They’re going to do an MRI. We’re hopeful that it’s not too, too serious. We don’t expect him back for these two games with Loudoun and New York Red Bulls (II). We’ll see how the MRI turns out. Then see if it’s a two-week, three-week. But we’re hopeful for the best, but right now it’s too early to be sure.”
After an impressive 3-0 win at Hartford on Friday, the Hounds now face a quick turnaround and a busy week, as they’re slated to take on Loudoun United FC on Tuesday evening at Highmark Stadium, then return to Red Bull Arena for its final match vs NY Red Bulls II this season.
Lilley addressed numerous other topics including:
- More on his team’s performance in beating Hartford
- Contributions of his wingers, Jordan Dover and Ryan James
- How the team responded after losing Forbes
- What to expect when facing Loudoun United FC again
- Supporting the players in light of events of last week, the player protest to racial injustice during the Hartford game and ongoing discussions that they continue to have as a team during what Lilley addressed as “a critical time”.
- More on how the team’s preparing for the home stretch of the schedule and having additional players back including Patrick Bunk-Andersen, Albert Dikwa and Danny Rovira
Here’s the full video of the press conference, with some key excerpts/key quotes transcribed below:
On beating Hartford to move three points ahead in Group F…
“It was a really good performance. The guys responded well. I thought we did a good job with possession. We made them chase the game. We got better as the game went on. They’re a good team. Hartford had games at hand. It was a game we had to have. If we didn’t get a result, we’d be fighting for second place the rest of the year. By winning, we are now in good position to have an opportunity to win our division. To finish higher in the standings. We still have work to do. We’re still mathematically, we’re still behind Hartford.”
“This is the last of our multiple game weeks, when we play mid-week. We’ve had three of these stretches. This is a massive week for us to solidify where we are in our division. Hopefully set us up for a good finish for the season.
Can you talk about the wingbacks (Ryan James and Jordan Dover) and their contributions…
“They’ve been great. Jordan was involved in two of the three goals, with getting forward, causing breakdowns.”
“They are unique players. Ryan and Jordan. They both played as MFs in college. We converted them to OB/Wingbacks. They have good skills sets. They defend well. They understand what we do defensively. They make it hard for teams to penetrate in wide areas. They also can get forward, and add extra man in attack. They kind have evolved from when they came in with me in Rochester. They’re smart players. They have good engines. Most games, they’re big part of our attack. We’re constantly trying to get them in attacking areas, provide width. They cause a lot of problems. Some games they have more work to do defensively and they’re capable of that also.”
When Kenardo went down, what were your thoughts on how the team responded…
“Lot of credit goes to the midfield three. Anthony (Velarde) had some injuries earlier in the year, but he had one of his better games.”
“Those are three young players, a rookie (Danny Griffin) and two second year players (Velarde and Robbie Mertz) and who did a good job for us. Everyone knew we had to be solid. It helped to get a goal shortly after that to calm us down. It was a big moment for us as a team.. I remember last year we went to St. Louis, and we had some concerns because Thomas Vancaeyezeele wouldn’t be able to play. We had a really solid performance there. It’s always good even when your key players you count on, you have a group of players, good teams, other players step forward. We have a lot of players with lot of ability. We have two massive performances coming up. Hopefully its a reminder that we play as a team. We can get the results we need as long as we stick together. It’s great to see the response as a team, to come up with a win like that on the road.”
Thoughts on facing Loudoun again…
“We got those two early goals vs Loudoun. We didn’t create a lot of chances after that. We were up a man. I don’t think we held the ball well enough. We could have been more positive. I am hoping we can play a complete game. They’re dangerous. They have a lot of pace. Even when a man down, they caused a lot of problems.”
Supporting the players in light of events of last week and player protest to racial injustice during the Hartford game
“I know there were discussions among the black player alliance. They were having discussions about what they wanted to do leading to the weekend. Certainly, there’s all player reps from all the teams were having those discussions. Ultimately the decision they made was to play the game, to have a moment in the seven minute mark where the players would go to the center circle.”
“We talked as a group, as soon as we pulled into Hartford on Thursday, about what’s going on. There was a little bit of talk on Friday morning.”
“It’s a critical time. I think the players want to have a voice. Hopefully, we’re all talking about it. We’re doing something to make a difference. I know, with our group, we got back. We drove back Saturday because it’s a long trip. Yesterday (Sunday), we trained, after training, we got together as a group again to talk about it. As a club, we’re trying to be proactive, to support the players. There’s more ideas and more things that could happen, moving forward with the players association and the league, and I know a lot of those things are in the works. I think it’s our job to hear the players. We’re all part of the organization. Not just the players. We all need to be on the same page. We have a good group. A mature group. We don’t have a bunch of yellers and screamers on our team, except for me. Most of those guys are very mature and strong individuals. Intelligent individuals. They understand there’s a really big picture we all need to be aware of. There’s a belief in the group to continue to look at this, and try to make a difference. Hopefully we’re able to continue to help them. And do the work as an organization as well.”
Is this team starting to get into a grove…
“Patrick Bunk-Andersen looked good in his first appearance, I know he didn’t play a lot, but I liked what I saw. He got into the 18 for the first time. (Albert) Dikwa is with us. We expect him to be in the 18 tomorrow. We’ll see if we play him tomorrow. It’s difficult that we’re losing Kenardo, but it’s nice to have some guys coming back. Danny Rovira, though he missed a couple games, looked good in his first training back today. We had a tough game in Loudoun, and we got a result. Hartford was a pretty efficient performance. Things could be better. We obviously have tired legs. The challenge now is vs Loudoun and New York (this week). We’ll learn a lot about ourselves. Last time we had three games, we went 1-1-1. This time, we’re 1-0 in a three game stretch. Hopefully we can show improvement in how we manage a three game stretch. Do I feel we’re getting better? Yes. I do know if we finish this week pretty strong, the schedule sets up pretty nicely after. All the work we do positive this week will help us with moving forward.”