USL Championship Atlantic Division
FINAL: Charlotte Independence 1, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 0
A late goal by Irvin Parra lifted the Charlotte Independence to a 1-0 victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night at American Legion Memorial Stadium.
It was yet another night ending in frustration for the Hounds against the Independence, who have dominated the series since the two clubs began play in 2015. With the loss, Pittsburgh is now 1-9-5 all-time against Charlotte, going 1-3-0 this season, with all matches ending in 1-0 scores. The Hounds have never beaten the Independence in the Queen City.
Parra, the leading scorer for the Independence (11-8-4) with 10 on the season, finished after being played behind the defense on a pass from Valentin Sabella. The Independence ended up outshooting the Hounds (14-7-5) in the game, 11-9.
Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello finished with a season-high six saves in the loss, which included three in the opening 20 minutes to keep the Independence at bay.
Pittsburgh (14-7-5, 48 points) now trail the Atlantic Division’s front-running Tampa Bay Rowdies by four points. The Hounds return to action next Saturday, at Highmark Stadium as they take on USL Old Guard rival Charleston Battery.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Looking to build on their recent winning streak, the Independence had a golden opportunity to take the lead in just the fourth minute as Sylvain Marveaux found Joel Johnson on the right side and then made his way into the penalty area for a return pass from the Liberian international that Marveaux sent just wide of the left post. Five minutes later, Enzo Martinez also went close as he controlled a ball forward into the penalty area by Christian Fuchs on his chest but couldn’t find the target with his finish from 12 yards.
Marveaux had another chance to break the deadlock in the 17th minute as a well-worked move on the left saw Gabriel Obertan play Adam Armour into space for a low near-post cross that was flicked back to the Frenchman by Parra, but his low shot to the left corner was just turned around the post by Pittsburgh’s Danny Vitiello. Three minutes later, Vitiello was twice called on again, first to keep out Johnson as he cut in behind the back line for a shot, and then to tip a shot by Obertan over the crossbar as the hosts asked most of the early questions.
Pittsburgh’s first effort on goal didn’t arrive until the 34th minute as after a free kick from the right by Kenardo Forbes, the ball deflected to Alex Dixon for a snap shot that was saved by Charlotte’s Austin Pack. Dixon also went close in the final minute of the half as he was slipped into the left side of the penalty area but struck his shot into the outside of the left side-netting. The Hounds continued to threaten early in the second half but Cicerone didn’t get full purchase on his finish after receiving a pass by Todd Wharton, who had drawn Pack off his line, and saw the effort blocked by Johnson as Charlotte escaped.
The Hounds went close again in the 55th minute as a corner kick from the right by Forbes found Ezra Armstrong at the back post for a header that went just over the crossbar, while 12 minutes later the Independence almost found an opening as a long ball forward was misjudged by Vitiello as he came to the edge of his penalty area, but after a scramble to try and clear an ambitious overhead shot by Johnson trying to loop the ball over the covering defenders went safely over the crossbar.
With nine minutes to go, however, the Independence found the breakthrough as Marveaux found Valentin Sabella in space on the right side, and the second-half substitute cut inside before playing an incisive pass for Parra, who slid his finish just past Vitiello as he came off his line and found the back of the net. Pittsburgh had a late chance to equalize in stoppage time as Danny Griffin delivered an angled cross from the left into the back post where Antony Velarde put an effort on target that Pack was able to keep out before his defense scrambled the ball to safety, but that proved all for the visitors as Charlotte claimed its third win out of four against the Hounds this season.
Final – Charlotte Independence end the Riverhounds 6 game unbeaten streak, winning 1-0. A great performance by Danny Vitiello in net but the Hounds very flat first half and lack of offense makes them (1-9-5) all-time against the Independence.
90+’ – Great ball played in by Griffin but shot high by Velarde. Riverhounds really pressing and going all in offensively to try and get a point out of this.
90′ – 4 minutes of added time.
88′ – Dean and Zola on for Parra and Marveaux for Charlotte.
Riverhounds sub Tommy Williamson and Anthony Velarde on for Mekeil Williams and Shane Wiedt. Danny Griffin now at Center back. Not often do you see 3 CB’s subbed off in a game for one team.
83′ – Shane Wiedt gets a yellow card now.
81′ – Charlotte scores! Great through ball from the sub Sabella between the Hounds back line into Parra. Parra makes a great diagonal run and scores past Vitiello. 1-nil.
79′ – Sabella on for Palomino on the Independence.
76′ – Louis Perez now on for Preston Kilwien. Sounds like Kilwien kinda hurt himself on that slide tackle in the box.
71′ – Yellow card given to the Independence’s #12 Armour.
69′ – Bizama now on for Obertan on Charlotte.
66′ – Riverhounds make 2 subs. Jelani Peters on for Jordan Dover and Dani Rovira on for Ezra Armstrong. I believe they’re in a 4-4-2 now with Kilwien, Williams, Peters and Wiedt on that back line.
59′ – Armstrong with some good moves and pace down the left side. He really provides that.
50′ – Wow, a beautiful play from Dixon and Wharton but Cicerone just doesn’t get enough power on the tap in. Charlotte player back to clear it out. Most games the USL 2nd leading goal scorer would make that. Just one of those nights.
47′ – Vitiello has been the player of the game so far. Can a Riverhounds field player now be that guy for the second half? Still 0-0.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 19, 2021
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 19, 2021
45′ – Griffin sets up Dixon just before the half ends. Dixon just misses.
Hounds have come out flat. Lots of ball chasing and not much creation on the wings.
34′ – Cicerone with a beautiful move on the sideline in a 1v1 with Fuche and then gets fouled. The free kick is crossed in by Forbes and the ball comes out to the feet of Dixon. His shot goes right into the hands of Pack.
29′ – Forbes passes one off to Dover who gets a corner kick. Hounds gain nothing from the corner. Felt like Forbes should’ve shot there.
21′ – Now Johnson and Obertan almost score for Charlotte within a minute. Vitiello keeping this scoreless 0-0.
18′ – Marveaux almost scores again. This time a big save from Vitiello to make it a corner kick.
14′ – Just a gut feeling, but I feel like in the second half Dover and Armstrong will be subbed off. Need more offense on the wings I’ve noticed so far. Maybe Williamson gets out there and move Cicerone to the wing. Rovira and Perez are good options too.
10′ – Martinez the captain now almost scores. The forward was just onside but his shot just goes wide past Vitiello. Hounds not off to a hot start.
8′ – Parra with a nice move on Williams. Pittsburgh does well to defend in the box on the counter and clear.
5′ – Cicerone called offside. Now I can hear Bob Lilley on the broadcast. As the Hounds turn back and defend the other way he yells, “Too easy, too easy, it’s too easy.”
4′ – A great combination play from Charlotte almost gives them the early lead. Marveaux misses a left foot pass in type goal from the 6, just goes wide. He’ll want that one back.
1′ – Game begins. Charlotte in their white and black throwback uniforms. Riverhounds are in black and gold.
— Charlotte Independence (@Independence) September 18, 2021
And here's the group Coach Lilley will send out for tonight's road match at @Independence.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 18, 2021
Look for lineups to be posted here close to kickoff and we’ll be providing in-game updates along with post game recap here on the gameday blog.
It's a GAMEDAY!
It's a WATCH PARTY!
It's a GAMEDAY WATCH PARTY!@BulldogPGH is the place to be at 7 this evening to watch the boys knock around Charlotte for a couple of hours.
It'll be a good time; and you like good times, don't you?#UNLEASH
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) September 18, 2021
Preview / PSN Recent Riverhounds SC Coverage
In this week’s Notebook, we outlined the Riverhounds SC’s stuggles vs Charlotte over the years. Thus far, in three matches in 2021, the Hounds have gone 1-2 against the Independence, with all three matches decided by 1-0 scores.
Here are some additional ‘quick-hitters’ as this match plans to be a tough test for the Hounds.
In the three matches played between the two sides, Charlotte won in Pittsburgh on May 22 and at home on Aug. 14, while the Hounds defeated Charlotte — ending a 12-game winless streak against the Independence — on July 3 in Pittsburgh.
The Hounds’ six-match unbeaten streak, a 4-0-2 stretch, is tied for the team’s longest this season with the period from July 3 to Aug. 6, when they went 5-0-1.
Striker Russell Cicerone remains in sole possession of second in the USL Championship goals race with 14 to his name after a clever tap-in finish last Saturday against Loudoun. It was his first goal in three September matches after scoring six in August to finish third in voting for USL Championship Player of the Month.
Midfielder/forward Alex Dixon continues to be an all-around playmaking threat with eight goals and a team-leading seven assists. The Hounds have never had a player with a 10-goal, 10-assist season; the closest to doing so was Kevin Kerr with 10 goals and nine assists in 2015.
We profiled Dixon earlier this week on PSN: