FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Loudoun United FC 0
Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
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.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) September 1, 2020
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.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 2, 2020
PK fest, 2020.
Our third spot kick in the opening 16 minutes is denied by first-year Hound Danny Vitiello!
Still 2-0, Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/XF9mOXOJi4
— Matt Gajtka (GITE-kah) (@MattGajtka) September 1, 2020
80′ – Corner attempt from Hounds — Mertz delivers to near post area. It’s Vancaeyezeele who redirects it — forcing another save by Lefebrve!
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 2, 2020
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.
From slowing it down, I'm pretty sure @dannyvitiello_ got a bead on where this was going before it got struck.
— Nicholas Murray (@NJEMurray) September 1, 2020
18′ – SAVE – Hounds keeper Danny Vitiello makes the diving save to his left to deny Joshua Fawole!!!
3 PKs in the first 16 minutes.
Midweek match madness
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) September 1, 2020
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
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) September 1, 2020
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
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.
— Loudoun United FC (@LoudounUnitedFC) September 1, 2020
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 1, 2020
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
The others include:
Tony Walls #PITvLDN
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) August 31, 2020
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