On the field, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC have gearing up for a big match against the Charlotte Independence this week, but off the field, the organization is preparing to celebrate progress in seeing its next big project get off the ground.
The team wrapped-up training this week and will be traveling to Charlotte for Saturday’s match. In three games this season, the Hounds and Charlotte have played games with the same scoreline: 1-0. The Independence have won two of those, and the fourth and final match will be played in North Carolina.
We have more on that match below.
BREAKING GROUND AT MONTOUR
It’s been a long time coming.
Back in 2019, the Riverhounds SC and Allegheny Health Network announced its big plans to build a complex at Montour Junction that would include 10 FIFA regulation sized fields, including two full-sized indoor fields plus the training facility for the Riverhounds SC senior team along with a state-of-the-art medical and sports medicine complex.
Then, in early 2020, as they were set to start breaking ground, COVID-19 happened. This derailed the project. Not much was said about the progress — or lack of progress for nearly 18 months.
Recently, Riverhounds SC owner Tuffy Shallenberger shared some of the progress that has been taking place at the site.
— Tuffy Shallenberger (@Tuffy_Shall) September 4, 2021
Allegheny Health Network (AHN), Highmark Health, and the Riverhounds will now come together on Friday at 10 a.m. to mark a significant
milestone in the construction of the new AHN Montour Health + Sports Medicine Center. PSN’s Matt Gajtka plans to be on hand and will report on the festivities.
The 78-acre complex will be home to ten turfed, FIFA regulation-sized soccer and multi-purpose fields, including two full size indoor fields for all seasons use, along with a 20,000-square-foot AHN medical facility will house a comprehensive range of clinical programs, including primary care and pediatrics with walk-in express care and extended hours seven days a week, diagnostic imaging services, orthopaedic and sports medicine services, physical and occupational therapy, a physician-led concussion diagnosis and management program, and sports performance training.
The project is expected to be complete in the Spring 2020.
Among those slated to be part of the ceremony include: Louise Urban, Senior Vice President of Operations for AHN; Patrick DeMeo, MD, chair of the AHN Orthopaedic Institute and medical director of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Shallenberger.
QUEEN CITY CHALLENGES
Not sure what this means, if anything, but the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC have experienced massive struggles playing against clubs that come from cities designated with the Queen City nickname in recent years.
In their short-lived series against FC Cincinnati, the Hounds failed to win a match between the franchises when they competed against each other in the USL Championship. From 2016 to 2018, the Hounds went a paltry 0-5-4 against FCC.
It’s the Charlotte Independence though, who’ve been a longer, more sustainable Queen City nuisanced opponent for the Riverhounds.
Pittsburgh has never defeated the Independence in the Queen City and have just one win overall in the series (and it came this year — on July 3 in Pittsburgh).
The Hounds now hold a 1-8-5 record all-time vs Charlotte.
That’s right folks, between Charlotte and Cincy, the Hounds are a paltry 1-13-9 against teams from the Queen City since 2015.
Finally, earlier this season, Pittsburgh got over the hump, and beat the Independence, 1-0, at Highmark Stadium. However, they’ve also dropped six points in two additional matches to the Independence, who currently sit above the playoff line in the Atlantic Division with 34 points (four points ahead of Hartford).
It’s almost as if even with a change of locale this season in Charlotte (moving to refurbished American Legion Stadium) has brought the same results for the Hounds in this match, as I designated the Independence’s home as the new house of horrors for the Hounds.
Charlotte heads into this match in decent form, having won two in a row, beating both Loudoun 5-0 (just as the Hounds did last week) and Hartford (2-0).
Being that this is the fourth time these two clubs will meet, and they’re pretty familar with each other, it may be yet another tightly contested match with one big play making a difference.
We’ll have more on this match with a preview and gameday blog to be posted on Saturday.
KING KENNY EARNS TEAM OF WEEK NOD; PRODUCTION STARTING TO PICK UP
Fresh off his first two-goal game of the season, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC midfielder Kenardo Forbes was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week for Week 21, the league announced on Tuesday
Forbes, the Hounds captain, scored on a Goal of the Week candidate volley and later on a curling shot from distance that was the final goal in the team’s 5-0 win Saturday over Loudoun United FC.
Here’s another look at that fabulous volley.
If you haven't seen this Kenardo Forbes goal yet, where have you been?
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 14, 2021
The multi-goal game was his second during his four seasons in Pittsburgh, having also scored twice in a 3-0 win over Indy Eleven on Sept. 28, 2019.
In addition to his scoring, Forbes won all five tackles and 7 of 8 duels during the match, and he added two key passes on the attack.
The goals also helped Forbes hit a club milestone. His leap to 53 points with the Hounds — 11 goals, 31 assists — propelled him into the club’s all-time top 10 in that category, going from 11th entering the game into a tie for eighth with Michael Apple (1999-2002).
MR. GAJTKA IS GOING TO GRAND RAPIDS
I want to take this opportunity and use this forum to offer my best wishes to an original Pittsburgh Soccer Now contributor, Matt Gajtka and his family, as they count the days down until they move from Pittsburgh to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Matt shared this information late last week (if you haven’t already seen, here’s his tweet and link to Patreon post).
TWO WEEKS' NOTICE: We're moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Again.
— Matt Gajtka (GITE-kah) (@MattGajtka) September 10, 2021
It’s been great to work with and get to know Matt since early 2015, when he became a regular presence among the media members at Highmark Stadium, and then became the Riverhounds SC play-by-play announcer.
Matt has become one of my closest confidant’s with this venture — as we have worked together reporting on Riverhounds, working high school featured games, on podcasts and in trying to build this site (and others on the Pittsburgh Sports Now family — as he’s been behind Pittsburgh Golf Now too).
Matt’s played a big part in helping with our growth and bringing a very high standard to providing soccer coverage in our region. I’ve even filled in a few times to serve as a color commentator along side him for Hounds games — including the infamous Hounds playoff loss to Bethlehem Steel FC in October 2018. Matt is the consumate professional and is always ultra-prepared for what ever assignment comes his way.
The good news is that we’re not losing Matt completely, as he still intends to contribute when he can, primarily on Pittsburgh Sports Live and in other areas.
Who knows, maybe the Hounds will face Grand Rapids FC or Detroit FC someday in the Open Cup — and he’ll be getting the call from me to cover the match?
On behalf of the entire PSN team, we would like to wish Matt and his family all the best on the next step in their journey and look forward to working and staying connected with him in the months and years to come.
STANDINGS & NEXT FIVE
From this point forward, we’ll include the Atlantic Division standings and take a look at the Hounds upcoming games along with their closest rivals for the top spot in the division.
Of the three top contenders for first place, Tampa probably has the toughest stretch coming up.
The Rowdies have extended their shutout streak to over 700 minutes and are in great form. However, they will play a weekday game at Charleston on October 7, and will have to play four of the next five on the road. The Hounds have a tough stretch playing playoff contenders Charlotte and Charleston before traveling to Miami then facing Tampa at home then back to Miami again. While the Hounds are done playing both Loudoun United FC and NY Red Bulls II, the two bottom teams in the division, MIami will face Loudoun twice in the next five.
Pittsburgh must keep winning to keep pace — it’s that simple. They can probably afford a few road draws along the way (especially against Miami) but as good as Miami and Tampa are playing, they’ll have to do their part.
There’s no doubt that all of those pivotal matches will swing the race the first.
|1||Tampa Bay Rowdies||23||16||6||1||23||49||
|2||Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC||25||14||6||5||16||47||
|3||The Miami FC||23||12||6||5||10||41||
|7||New York Red Bulls II||23||4||15||4||-26||16||
|8||Loudoun United FC||22||3||17||2||-29||11||
Next five games for top three contenders:
Riverhounds (47 pts; 25 games played): at Charlotte (9/18); Home vs Charleston (9/25); at Miami (10/2); Home vs Tampa Bay (10/10); at Miami (10/17)
Tampa Bay (49 pts; 23 games played): at Atlanta United 2 (9/18); at Hartford (9/25); at Charleston (10/2); Home vs Charleston (10/7); at Pittsburgh (10/10)
Miami (41 pts; 23 games played): Home vs Charleston (9/18); at Charlotte (9/22); Home vs Loudoun (9/25); Home vs Pittsburgh (10/2); at Loudoun (10/10)