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Final: Riverhounds 2, Union II 1

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Final: Riverhounds 2, Union II 1

FINAL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 2, Philadelphia Union II 1 

Game Stats: USL Championship Match Center

POST GAME SUMMARY

Whew. Pittsburgh soccer fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Albert Dikwa is the Hounds’ hero.

A late header in stoppage time from a Kenardo Forbes corner kick helped the Riverhounds take the lead in Group F in the final weekend of the regular season.

Moments away from facing a disappointing draw, they would have ended its regular season on a down note. Sure, they still would’ve been in the playoffs, but a loss that would surely damaged their confidence.

Now, Pittsburgh’s standings in Group F and their playoff position all come down to the result between Hartford Athletic vs. NY Red Bulls II tomorrow at 7pm. Riverhounds now have 34 points to Hartford’s 32. If Hartford wins then they win the division and Pittsburgh travels to play Louisville City FC. If they tie or lose, Pittsburgh will host Indy Eleven or Saint Louis FC in the quarterfinals.

The first half featured a dominated Pittsburgh side. “We played better than the score. We were only up 1-0 then” Hounds Head Coach Bob Lilley said.

Philadelphia didn’t even have a shot on goal all half and just two attempted shots. The Riverhounds were looking for one or two more goals going into the half, giving them a chance to sub out some of their starters.

The Union were getting talked up around the league as of late. They really improved the last half of the season. Last two games they lost to the Hounds by a combined score of 10-0. But this time they didn’t hunker down. They found their groove in the second half and pressed hard. Union II average age on the team is 17.4. A young team with lots of potential. Three players Jack McGlynn (scored their lone goal), Nathan Harriel and Paten Aaronson all likely headed to the MLS in 2021.

“It was scary. I knew only being up by one that they could get one and tie it. Much respect and credit to Philadelphia. They played hard” Coach Lilley stated.

Pittsburgh hasn’t had too many games come down to the final minutes.

Lilley saw this as a positive.

“Good to have a game like that since a lot of playoff games are close towards the end. Just wish there was a crowd here to respond.”

And it was Dikwa who was the man on the spot with the game-winner.

“I wish Dikwa had a full season with us. He’s still learning our system. He’s certainly a weapon for us” Lilley exclaimed after the match. “The bench is much deeper with a forward like him. Mensah and Dos Santos bring physical attributes, but the addition of Dikwa is great, and he is a vital sub for them.

Dikwa on learning the system mentioned “To learn the system I need to be patient and focus. My goal is to help the team any way I can.”

After a loss last week against Hartford, the Riverhounds are now 5-1-0 in their last six games played. 5-2-1 in their eight at home. It looks like the 2020 Riverhounds team under Bob Lilley will go down with the best goals-per-game average at about 2.44. And, the least goals allowed by average at .64. This year the Riverhounds finish with a solid season record of 11-4-1. Specifically, 10-2 in group F matches. Their now 8-3-3 all-time against their in-state rival, and 6-1-0 at home.

The Riverhounds gave up just 10 goals this season. A shortened season but a remarkable number. Shows how well they played defensively.

A plus-29 goal differential as well.

A big part of that too was Thomas Vancaeyezeele who played every minute for the Riverhounds this season. A great accomplishment. It’s very rare in any sport these days that a player plays every game. Lilley stated, “He was our ironman. He defends well and can even score goals. We pushed him up a bit at the end there. He’s a consistent player for us.”

Individually, Steevan Dos Santos played in his 150th career regular season game in the USL Championship. An incredible achievement for the Cape Verde native. Kenardo Forbes, the captain from Jamaica is now tied 2nd all-time in club history in assists. He ties David Flavius with 25 assists. He only sits behind Kevin Kerr who has 27. If Forbes didn’t miss over a month of play, he would probably be the all-time leader. He also currently is tied in the USL Championship in assists with eight. Doesn’t get an injury and he’d certainly be first. The 2019 MVP Finalist hasn’t missed a beat.

Post-game Forbes stated that “This was a good test for us.” Also mentioned that he felt rusty. It surely didn’t look like that on the pitch. He may slightly be behind in his fitness, but he was dribbling quick out there and almost scored twice in addition to his game winning assist.

When asked if the team would much rather play at home even if there isn’t fans, Lilley added: “Our away record is actually slightly better than our home record, but we’re more comfortable at home. This is where this team wants to play. We want to win the division, the conference and the league. We’re winners and that’s how we think.”

 

POST GAME INTERVIEWS

GAMEDAY UPDATES

RIVERHOUNDS WIN! A SIGH OF RELIEF! What a finish from Dikwa to give the Hounds the current lead in Group F. A great game played by the Union II.

RIVERHOUNDS 2 – UNION II 1

90+++’ – Mark Lindstrom comes on for Robbie Mertz. Clearly just to waste time and add another dman out there.

90+’ – ALBERT DIKWA GOAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL

RIVERHOUNDS 2 – UNION II 1

Corner kick for Pittsburgh. Forbes takes it and Dikwa heads it in!!

90′ – 5 minutes of stoppage time! The Riverhounds playoff position all comes down to this!

87′ – Bunk-Anderson pushes up in the play and gets a shot off but its deflected. Union II make some subs in the forward position. Sullivan and Picazo are in.

83′ – Dos Santos heads it down to Dikwa but his shot goes right to the keeper.

Forgot to mention a yellow card handed out to Dos Santos back in the 70th minute. Don’t think the few fans here agreed with it.

80′ – Another corner kick for the Union II. Dikwa helps dribble it out. Hounds certainly feeling the pressure now.

77′ – Hydration break for the teams. Philadelphia has improved a lot as of late. That’s what I heard before this game. You can definitely tell in this game. They’re competing well.

76′ – VANCAEYEZEELE ALMOST SCORES OFF A FREE KICK! Good save from Martino. Wow that was close.

73′ – Riverhounds can’t convert on another corner kick. Union II takes it the other way and earn themselves a corner kick.

71′ – Corner kick from the Union II. Vitiello catches it with ease. He immediately pushes forward in his box and plays on. He wants his team to finish this.

68′ – First substitutions for the Hounds. Velarde and Dikwa come on for Lee and Mensah. Time to get some fresh bodies on to get a goal here.

67′ – Foul by Huckaby on Griffin in the midfield

64′ – The Hounds almost get one back as Vancaeyezeele heads one just over the crossbar! Great pass from James out wide.

61′ – MCGLYNN SCORES ON A PENALTY KICK! TIE GAME 1-1

Skylar Thomas with his big body knocked down Bohni in the box to give the Union II a penalty kick

58′ – The ironman Vancaeyezeele gets up and wins a header. He’s played every minute for the Riverhounds this season.

56′ – Dos Santos called offside. Would have been in all alone

55′ – Forbes shoots a laser 25 yards out just over the bar! So close!

53′ – Lee gets called offside again. Him and Mensah have been caught a few times.

51′ – Mertz switches the field with a bullet of a pass right on the foot of James. A David Beckham type play!

49′ – Mensah gets it out wide to Lee. He crosses it in, Martino traps it

47′ – 2nd half is on! Gotta think Union II will give it all they got before their season ends. Lots of potential in many of these younger guys

HALFTIME: RIVERHOUNDS 1 – UNION 0

My thoughts are the Hounds are easily controlling this game. Just need to watch giving up free kicks in their defensive zone as anyone can cash in on a free kick. Getting that second goal will be huge so they can start putting in some subs. I’m loving the pressure from Mensah up high.

45′ – 3 minutes of stoppage time

45′ – There’s no containing Forbes in the midfield. He runs faster than anyone when he’s on the ball

42′ – Yellow card handed out to Turner on the Union. He pulled down Forbes as he lost the ball to the captain.

37′ – Dos Santos is fouled by like four guys. Takes a lot of power to get it off the big man.

35′ – Mensah takes a shot. Save from Martino. Harriel with a hard tackle on him to break up that shot more.

31′ – First hydration break in the game. I’m currently drinking a Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew from Starbucks.

30′ – Free kick taken by McGlynn about 40 out. Vitiello makes the easy save.

28′ – Riverhounds calming the game down now. Starting to possess more.

23′ – Mensah passes it to Forbes and he changes direction to Dos Santos. Dos Santos hits the one-timer but it just goes wide.

20′ – Mensah fouls but play on says the ref. A minute later, Mensah fouls again and it’ll sit for a free kick back in the Unions defensive zone. They go in to possess now.

18′ – Corner kick for the Union. James kicks it out. No chance.

15′ – GOAL FOR THE RIVERHOUNDS! Mertz drops it back to Lee and he passes it in past Martino! 1-0 Riverhounds

4th assist for Mertz on the year and first goal of the season for Lee!

14′ – Mertz plays in Griffin down the line. He crosses it in but its blasted out by the Union. Throw in for the Riverhounds now.

11′ – Lee is called offsides

10′ – Mensah with another shot but another save! Griffin hits the rebound past the goal. Goal kick for the Union.

7′ – Mensah with a brilliant move in the box!! Makes a cruyff move to get past 2 defenders. Takes a shot but Martino the past Riverhounds academy player makes the save!

5′ – Mertz takes a corner kick but the Union clear

4′ – Dos Santos takes a foul in the box on a defender. Riverhounds are undefeated when he scores (13-0-0)

3′ – Nice give-n-go between James and Mensah. Hope to see some offense from them tonight.

1′ – We’re underway with the final regular season game! Riverhounds will look to win and take the top of Group F, over Hartford Athletic.

 

Look for lineups to be posted here around 6:45 p.m.

PSN RIVERHOUNDS COVERAGE THIS WEEK 

Riverhounds SC Notebook: The Tables Have Turned

Bob Lilley Press Conference: Week 13 vs. Philadelphia

GAME NOTES 

The Hounds look to win this match in hopes of securing the Group F title, as they currently sit one point behind first-place Hartford Athletic (10-3-2). Hartford would also have to lose or tie against New York Red Bulls II on Sunday, in addition to a Hounds win, if Pittsburgh were to clinch the group. If both teams would finish with the same point total, tiebreakers would first be total wins followed by goal differential (Pittsburgh has a +28 and Hartford has a +5 goal differential).

The winner of Group F would host either Indy Eleven or Saint Louis FC in the conference quarterfinals whereas the second place Group F team would travel to play Louisville City FC to open the postseason.

This will be the third match between the two clubs this season. In their first matchup back on July 18, the Hounds routed Union II, 6-0, at Subaru Park. When the teams met back on Aug. 1, the Hounds posted another shutout, defeating Union II, 4-0, at Highmark Stadium. With two first-half assists in this latter meeting, Kenardo Forbes set the all-time assist record in USL Championship play with 38 helpers.

In the Hounds’ last match, they fell to Hartford Athletic, 1-0, on Sept. 26 at Highmark Stadium. Philadelphia fell to Hartford, 3-2, in its last match on Wednesday at Subaru Park.

 

 

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