The sun was shining (finally) on Memorial Day and the Riverhounds SC were an upbeat group as they completed a final training session at Highmark Stadium prior to getting ready to travel to Virginia for its midweek clash with Loudoun United on Wednesday evening (7 p.m. kickoff — ESPN+),
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) May 31, 2021
The Hounds as a group have plenty of reason to be confident and optimistic on Monday, as they were coming off its first win of the season on Friday, beating NY Red Bulls II, 3-0.
Among the players who were feeling the positive vibe was Alex Dixon.
On Saturday, Dixon notched one goal, one assist and two key passes while making 11 recoveries and recording two interceptions in the Hounds’ 3-0 win away to the New York Red Bulls II, as he received the highest grade among the Hounds in our latest Analysis & Player Grades feature after the NYRBII win. He’s also among the candidates for USL Championship Player of the Week and will almost assuredly be named to the Team of the Week for his performance.
I had a chance to catch up with Dixon after practice to talk to him about a number of topics including:
- Friday’s performance
- Has Bob Lilley changed as a coach since he last played for him in Rochester
- What are some of his key attributes as a player and his role with this Riverhounds SC team this year
- Thoughts on being part of Social Justice movement in the past year and bringing important issues to light
- On facing Loudoun United on Monday
One of the common themes among the group at practice was that it was a group effort, and that is important as the Hounds continue to grow and get more and more on the same page.
In addition, I caught up with Bob Lilley to get his thoughts on the match-up with Loudoun United, who are coming off a rather surprising result — beating New Mexico on the road Saturday night, 1-0.
— Loudoun United FC (@LoudounUnitedFC) May 30, 2021
The United, who also won its first match this weekend — and are a team that the Hounds have never lost to in five previous matches — are not to be taken lightly. Last season they provided the Hounds with fits, especially early in each match.
Riverhounds Head Coach Bob Lilley is fully aware that Loudoun is capable of giving them some match-up challenges.
I also had a brief interview with Lilley on Monday as he addressed what to expect from Loudoun but he also shared his excitement for seeing Christian Pulisic’s accomplishment in being a key part of Chelsea FC’s winning the UEFA Champions League this past weekend. Lilley and Pulisic’s father, Mark, are lifelong friends who played college soccer together at George Mason. The senior Pulisic was an assistant with the Hounds in 2018.
Riverhounds SC Team Notes
- The Hounds have won all five matches against Loudoun, which is their longest active winning streak against any Eastern Conference opponent.
- So far, only three Hounds players have played every minute of the season: goalkeeper Danny Vitiello, defender Shane Wiedt
and midfielder Danny Griffin.
- With his shutout against New York last Friday, goalkeeper Danny Vitiello recorded his sixth clean sheet for the Hounds. That ties him with Trey Mitchell for the sixth-most clean sheets in club history.
- This will be the first match against Loudoun for defender Shane Wiedt, who played the first two seasons of his pro career for the Virginia club in 2019 and 2020.
- June is the busiest month on the schedule for the Hounds with seven matches, part of a stretch of 10 matches in 40 days.
- In addition, the Hounds head into this week’s two game in five day stretch with no significant injuries (and a blank injury report).
Look for Mark Goodman’s more detailed preview on Loudoun United FC to come prior to Wednesday’s match plus we’ll have our live game blog up prior to kickoff.