USL Championship – Atlantic Division
FINAL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 0, Tampa Bay Rowdies 0
Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC came away with a hard-earned point in a top-of-the-table showdown with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, as the teams played to a scoreless draw at Highmark Stadium on Wednesday.
With the result, both sides remain tied atop the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division with 34 points each.
Despite the stalemate, Hounds Head Coach Bob Lilley took away a number of positives, particularly his team’s defensive play.
“We were good tonight in the back. There were a few loose moments, but we were pretty good. They’re an explosive team, especially when you’re bringing Sebastián Guenzatti, Lucky Mkosana and those types of players on the field. We had good execution for the most part. We held a lot of the ball, which we knew we’d have to, because they were fresh,” Lilley said.
“To me, we got the ball in good positions, past the midfield line in space, but we just didn’t execute. We have to get better at that, but we played the game I felt we needed to. Obviously, we want to win at home, but this was a game where they’re starting to get healthy, and they thought they could push us around early. The response from our guys was nice to see. I’m proud of the guys tonight, it was one of our better performances. I see a team that is adapting, being able to dictate games. That’s growth.”
As could be expected from two clubs that have strong defensive pedigree, it was a well-played, clean yet hard-fight, tightly contested match, with neither side giving away much.
It was Pittsburgh, coming out in a 3-4-3 formation, which morphed at times into a 5-1-3-1, who dominated possession (owning 64 percent of possession), but Tampa created more scoring chances, with an 8-4 edge on shots (4 to 1 on frame).
Tampa created the lone two shots on frame, as Connor Antley’s one-time shot in the 37th minute, and former Riverhound Steevan Dos Santos’ redirected header were both saved by goalkeeper Danny Vitilello.
Pittsburgh owned the possession battle in the first half, keeping the ball at a 63-37 advantage, while setting up a pair of corner kicks.
The Hounds best opportunity may have come in the 84th minute, shortly after Louis Perez entered as a substitute, when he delivered a
Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello made four saves to preserve his fourth clean sheet of the season.
Pittsburgh (now 10-6-4) will return to action Sunday when they host Atlanta United 2 on Sunday night at 6 p.m. at Highmark Stadium.
Final – A playoff type game at Highmark. Tense and tight. 0-0 draw. Riverhounds now 3-3-4 all-time against the Rowdies and 2-0-3 at home. Blanked on the scoresheet for the fifth time all season.
90+’ – Lucky Mkosana gets a yellow card for a bad tackle on Danny Griffin.
89′ – Rowdies make a late sub. Doherty from Ireland on for Wyke in the midfield. 4 minutes of stoppage time added.
83′ – Kilwien and Perez come on for 2/3 CB’s, Peters and Williams. Wharton moves back to RCB.
Perez a minute in takes a shot from 30 out and hits the crossbar! Hounds got 5 min + stoppage time to get a goal.
76′ – Danny Griffin with a great sneaky pass to Dixon but he loses it. Griffin has been a filter on the field. Every ball goes through him practically. He’s been playing as a 6 all season.
72′ – Wharton with a great ball into Cicerone but just offsides. Tampa Bay makes another sub. Mkosana who scored the first ever goal at Highmark Stadium comes on for the former Riverhound Dos Santos.
66′ – Riverhounds make their first two subs. Williamson and Wharton on now for Velarde and Armstrong. I think Williamson will be striker now and Cicerone will move into the Left Attacking Mid position (LAM).
61′ – It looks like Dos Santos got a tip on the free kick cross but Vitiello gets a hand on it for the ball to go out for a corner kick. Both teams getting some closer looks now. One might finally break through.
59′ – Tampa Bay makes some subs. Guenzatti and Ekra now on for Adebayo-Smith and Steinberger.
Also, Velarde gets a yellow card.
Hounds starting to assert themselves a bit more in the final third. Forced a few clearances after decent build-ups that are getting into box past few minutes.
They're knocking on the door folks…
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) August 18, 2021
57′ – Armstrong to Rovira to Velarde to Cicerone and almost to Forbes. A good build up play by the Hounds but well defended and cleared out by Tampa Bay. Score remains 0-0.
50′ – Dixon with a one-on-one makes a step over move and creates a corner kick. He’s been on a tear the past 7 games with 5 goals and 2 assist but held scoreless in the last 135+ minutes.
45′ – Second half begins here at Highmark. Hounds looking to end the losing streak and earn their 5th win at home this season.
End of first half – No stoppage time called. Bob Lilley has officially coached in his 113th game with the organization. One ahead now of Justin Evans who coached in the early 2010’s.
44′ – Rovira making two great passes back to back. Both give-n-go’s. Lilley might want to look into playing Rovira in the middle more. He’s creating out on the pitch tonight.
42′ – Shane Wiedt has not been afraid to go up and win 50/50 balls with Steevan Dos Santos tonight.
39′ – A reminder that this is a big game for both teams. If Hounds win they earn first place again in the division. Hounds have lost two in a row but have never lost three in a row under Bob Lilley. Score still 0-0.
36′ – Rovira with a nice juggle move between two guys. Hounds just can’t execute in the final third.
33′ – Forbes megs a guy and gets around another defender. Almost a highlight reel but Hounds don’t turn it into a goal.
32′ – Annnddd Lasso gets his yellow card. Big foul on Cicerone.
30′ – Peters moving up into the play almost gets a shot off from a pass from Forbes. Close chance after the corner kick. Riverhounds leading in possession so far at 65%.
22′ – Ezra Armstrong showing some great technical ability out on the left wing. Took a touch down out of mid air and went to goal with speed. Moments like that is what makes Bob Lilley play you more.
19′ – Riverhounds with some patient possession earns them their first corner. No goal, but the Rowdies seem to just sit back and watch while Hounds pass around. Just waiting for the home team to make the mistake.
15′ – The Rowdies with a few corners already. Mekail Williams man marking the very tall Dos Santos in the box.
11′ – A big foul from CB Lasso on Tampa Bay. No yellow card but I do believe he got a YC last game the Riverhounds played.
5′ – Rovira getting a chance at CM today. Haven’t seen that yet this season as he’s usually LB.
1′ – Game begins. Not raining at the moment. I have a feeling the referees will be tested tonight. Former player Steevan Dos Santos starting for Tampa Bay. Their main forward Guenzatti is starting on the bench.
Here's our Starting XI that will face the @TampaBayRowdies with first place in the Atlantic Division at stake.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) August 18, 2021
Here’s Tampa Bay’s starters…
Look for starting lineups to be posted here prior to the match.
In this week’s Hounds Notebook, we took a closer look at this showdown between the USL Championship’s top two teams in the Atlantic Division standings.
Also, here’s a look at Mark Goodman’s preview of the Rowdies prior to the second meeting.
Is it raining this morning?
Will it rain all day?
Must mean it's a gameday!
Don't let it being a Wednesday hide the fact this is a big one, tonight. A real big one.
Get loud. Get nasty. Help stop the skid.#UNLEASH
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) August 18, 2021
— Forrest Lasso (@folasso) August 18, 2021
For the first time this season, the Hounds (10-6-3) play host to Tampa Bay (11-6-0) after meeting twice in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Round 1 between the two clubs this season went to Tampa Bay, as Jordan Adebayo-Smith, Sebastián Guenzatti and former Riverhound Steevan Dos Santos each notched a goal in the 3-0 victory. The next time the two teams met, the Hounds earned their first-ever win at Al Lang Stadium, 2-1, behind goals from Danny Griffin and Russell Cicerone.
In their last match, a 1-0 loss at the Charlotte Independence on Saturday, the Hounds failed to generate solid scoring chances, registering just one shot on target. Enzo Martinez scored the lone goal for Charlotte in the 47th minute, as Charlotte handed the Hounds their first road loss since June 30 and first shutout since June 6.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay (11-6-0) outshot Hartford Athletic by a massive 23-2 gap in a 1-0 win at Al Lang Stadium on Friday. Adebayo-Smith netted his fourth goal of the season, as it took Tampa Bay until the 85th minute to break through.
The injury report has shrunk for the Hounds with just three players ruled out for Wednesday.
Ahead of Wednesday's 1st place showdown vs Tampa Bay, @RiverhoundsSC injury report has been trimmed a bit…
Albert Dikwa (Groin)
Jordan Dover (Lower Leg)
Josh Gatt (Knee) #PITvTBR
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) August 16, 2021
The Hounds have never lost three straight matches under head coach Bob Lilley. The last time they did so was 2017, when they dropped consecutive games to Bethlehem Steel, New York Red Bulls II and the Rochester Rhinos — then coached by Lilley. During his tenure with Rochester, Lilley never lost three straight regular-season matches in a single season, either.
Also, the Hounds are unbeaten against the Rowdies at home, posting a 2-0-2 record all time. Their most recent meeting at Highmark Stadium was on July 13, 2019, when the two clubs played to a 1-1 draw.
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