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FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Loudoun United FC 0

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Loudoun United FC 0

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Loudoun United FC 0

Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center

Match Summary

In a match that featured three penalty kick attempts in the first 16 minutes, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC took command early in defeating Loudoun United FC, 3-0, at Highmark Stadium Tuesday evening. 

Goals were scored by Mark Forrest, Anthony Velarde and Albert Dikwa. 

With the win, Pittsburgh (7-3-1, 22 points) surge into a six-point lead in USL Championship’s Group F Standings, ahead of Hartford Athletic, who still hold three games at hand.

It was the Hounds fifth shutout and goalkeeper Danny Vitiello’s second clean sheet this season.  

“I think we defended reasonably well, but I think we could have done a better job defending higher up the pitch, taking the game to them. I think it’s a good result. It’s hard with changing lineups and short rest, but it didn’t feel like we had enough energy during the game.”

Not since 2014, when Jose Angulo buried three first half penalty kicks have the Riverhounds SC enjoyed such a fabulous start by pressing its opponent into making blunders in the box. 

It started when Mark Forrest won a foul, as he was nicked in the foot by former PItt Panther Shane Wiedt in the box in the third minute. 

Forrest converted his chance by blasting a shot into the left side of the net, beating Loudoun keeper Simon Lefebvre. 

Only two minutes later, the Hounds brought more pressure, as Loudoun’s Elvis Amoh was guilty of a hand ball in the box.  

Another second-year pro, Anthony Velarde stepped up to make the most of his penalty kick chance, sliding a shot  into the lower left side to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 edge. 

Loudoun responded with some pressure of its own in the 16th minute — as Jacob Greene made a nifty move, and nutmegged Jordan Dover, he was also tripped up by the Hounds’ defender to give the visitors a golden chance to cut the lead in half. 

In his third start of the season, Riverhounds SC keeper Danny Vitiello came up big, diving to his left to deny Joshua Fawole’s chance from the spot.  

“I personally do a lot of research to see where guys usually go on penalty kicks,” Vitiello said. “I hadn’t done much on Fawole, but I read it well and was able to make the save.”

Pittsburgh, changing up tactics a bit by coming out with a four-man back line, five midfielders and one forward, controlled possession for the remainder of the first half, although they were not as ambitious in getting forward.  

The majority of the Hounds passes were short and they were working hard to play the ball from side-to-side throughout.  

Despite conceding nine fouls in the first half, including Dover’s mishap, Pittsburgh slowed down Loudoun’s ability to counter and stretch the field. 

By the second half, with its midfielders dropping even deeper, and with the addition of Albert Dikwa into the lineup in the second half in his club debut, Pittsburgh looked to hit back on the counter a few more times. 

The Hounds added a late goal by Dikwa, as the forward capped his first week in Pittsburgh, and his first match at Highmark Stadium by winning a shoulder-to-shoulder battle for the ball with Jeremy Garay after a high bouncing ball came from a very high goal kick from Danny Vitiello. Dikwa’s one-timed shot in stride from the top of the box beat Lefebvre to seal the Hounds win. 

Hounds coach Bob Lilley unloaded his bench in the second half. In addition to Dikwa coming on in the 46th minute, Patrick Bunk-Andersen, Steevan Dos Santos, Skylar Thomas and Dakota Barnathan came on to contribute in the victory. 

Once again, as they did on Friday in Hartford, players from both sides came together at the center circle in a show of unity in against racism after the Hounds scored the second goal.

Next up, Pittsburgh will face NY Red Bulls II in New Jersey on Saturday (5 p.m. kickoff).

“I think we are going to need more energy to get three points on Saturday,” Lilley added. “I think this was a tough game because of rest, but it was important for us to come out on top. I think if we can find the legs to beat New York on Saturday, that is going to put us in a good position come playoff time.”

Be sure to check back here for more post-match reaction from Highmark Stadium. 

Post-Match Interviews

Highlights

Gameday Updates

89′ – GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS – 3-0
ALBERT DIKWA on breakaway.
Welcome to Pittsburgh Albert Dikwa!
Dikwa wins the shoulder to should battle for the ball with Jeremy Garay — and shot gets past Lefebvre.

80′ – Corner attempt from Hounds — Mertz delivers to near post area. It’s Vancaeyezeele who redirects it — forcing another save by Lefebrve!

Man, Tommy V is so good at getting well-timed redirected balls on frame from corner kicks.
64′ / 65′ – Here the summary of additional 2nd half subs for Hounds: (feels like a preseason match!!)
 
Skylar Thomas replaces Mark Da Silva Lindstrom because of an injury.
Steevan Dos Santos in for Velarde
Patrick Bunk-Andersen in for Fernandes
57′ – Jordan Dover with some serious moves in the box — and sends a terrific short cross to center of goal box, but header from Lukas Fernandes can’t find the target!  That would have been an unbelievable highlight goal.
52′ – Well timed tackle by Ryan James as Ali Ndour was turning up the jets with the ball as he got into box.
50′ – Wild sequence sees Vitiello down and Ryan James the last line of defense for the Hounds, but the flag is up on Loudoun. Off side call against the visitors.
46′ – SECOND HALF BEGINS
Albert Dikwa has entered the match at the start of the 2nd half. He’s in for Ropapa Mensah.
Ali Ndour and Christian Sorto are in for Loudoun.

HALF – PITTSBURGH 2, LOUDOUN 0

Hounds hold edge in most stats:

Possession 55/45, Shots 6-4 (4-1 on target), 3-1 corners

38′ – Elvis Amoh (Loudoun United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

36′ – Loudoun with free kick from left side just outside box, and inswinging ball to far post forces Hounds GK Danny Vitiello to come out, make an athletic play to get to it.

35′ – The clubs are done taking hydration break. Loudoun going to use one of its subs already. OUT Issa Mudashiru IN Brandon Williamson 35′

29′ – Mensah gets behind the Loudoun back line, tries to chip it over GK Simon Lefebvre, but can’t get it high enough. Save for the Loudoun keeper.

18′ – SAVE – Hounds keeper Danny Vitiello makes the diving save to his left to deny Joshua Fawole!!!

17′ – PK now for Loudoun. What’s going on here?

Jordan Dover conceded the foul in the box — as he knocked down Jacob Greene.

7:15 p.m. – 8′ – Again, like last match, at the 7:00 mark, the teams congregate at the center circle, as they collectively take 1:48 seconds to come together to show their unity to take a stand against racism

7:13 – 7′ – GOAL RIVERHOUNDS 2-0

Anthony Velarde converts the PK!

The second PK of match awarded to Pittsburgh — this time due to a handball in the box.

7:11 p.m. – GOAL RIVERHOUNDS 1-0

Mark Forrest buries the PK opportunity for his first goal of the season.

7:10 p.m. – 4′ PENALTY — Hounds awarded a PK!

7:06 p.m. — the match has kicked off

Riverhounds SC starting XI:

GK: Danny Vitiello

Def: Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Jordan Dover, Mark Lindstrom

MF: Robbie Mertz, Ryan James (C), Anthony Velarde, Ropapa Mensah, Lukas Fernandes

F: Mark Forrest

Available subs:

Tomas Gomez (GK), Patrick Bunk-Andersen, Ray Lee, Skylar Thomas, Dakota Barnathan, Albert Dikwa, Steevan Dos Santos

Staring lineups will be posted here at approximately 6:30 p.m.

 

We’re expecting some squad rotation tonight, so here’s my best guess at a projected Hounds starting XI for Tuesday:

GK:  Danny Vitiello

DEF:  Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Skylar Thomas, Mark Lindstrom

WINGERS:  Jordan Dover, Ray Lee

MIDFIELD:  Dakota Barnathan, Ryan James, Robbie Mertz

FORWARDS:  Lukas Fernandes, Ropapa Mensah

Match Notes 

This will be the second time the clubs meet this season. In their first matchup on Aug. 19 at Segra Field, Pittsburgh defeated Loudoun, 2-0, as goals from Steevan Dos Santos (7’) and Lukas Fernandes (11’) put the Hounds in control early.

Last time out, the Hounds defeated Hartford Athletic, 3-0, on Friday at Dillon Stadium. The win gave them a three-point lead over Hartford in Group F. Meanwhile, Loudoun fell to New York Red Bulls II in its last match, 3-2, on Saturday at Segra Field.

The Hounds look to extend their lead atop Group F after their win against Hartford gave them a three-point advantage. Four of Pittsburgh’s remaining six games, all against Group F opponents, will be played at Highmark Stadium.

PSN Coverage this week

Preview: The Midweek-iest of Midweek Games Ever

Hounds’ Ryan James named USL Championship Player of the Week; Dover earns Team of Week honors

Bob Lilley Press Conference: Week 9 vs Loudoun United & NY Red Bulls II

Takeways/Grades: On night of bold statements in Hartford, Riverhounds SC affirm top spot

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).

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