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Hounds Notebook: Looking at playoff scenarios and a potential Bold last stand

Hounds Notebook: Looking at playoff scenarios and a potential Bold last stand

The Riverhounds SC are going to be on short rest as they host Hartford Athletic FC in the regular season finale at Highmark Stadium.
While, the Hounds cliniched a playoff spot weeks ago, there’s still a lot up for grabs as they try to keep hopes alive to have home playoff match.
After securing a full-three points in a return trip to Miami, with a 1-0 win in a match that was replayed from the 67th minute on Wednesday, the Hounds and Charlotte Independence are vying for second place.  The Independence lead Pittsburgh by a point and also hold the tie-break advantage based on their 2-1-1 head-to-head record vs Pittsburgh this year.
Here are the playoff scenarios heading into Saturday’s match:
• If the Hounds win AND Charlotte loses or ties at Austin, we open the playoffs at home vs. Memphis on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
• Any other combination of results means we will open the playoffs at the Central Division second-place team (either Birmingham or Louisville), date and time TBD

A Last Bold Stand?

Right as the Riverhounds-Hartford match comes to a conclusion, if the Hounds walk away with three points, they’ll move up in the standings, two points ahead of Charlotte.

Then, at 9 p.m., the Independence will kickoff in Texas, as Pittsburgh soccer fans will surely turn their attention to this match.

Charlotte will be facing a club, Austin Bold FC, who could, concievably be playing its last game ever in Austin — as that news came down the pike this week.

There’s a lot at stake in the his inter-conference match.

For Austin, who beat Pittsburgh at Highmark Stadium earlier this year, it must win to have a chance at reaching the playoffs as it currently sits three points behind fourth-placed Rio Grande Valley FC and two behind New Mexico United. Austin holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Toros, and will have a close eye on what’s happening elsewhere while in action.

 

Charlotte is sitting on a six-game undefeated streak as it heads to Texas after Wednesday night’s 1-0 win against Loudoun United FC kept the side one point ahead of the Hounds.

This is a club that has always been a thorn in the side of the Hounds, and they’re equally determined to earn a home playoff match.

“It will be massive for us, obviously, for the club,” said attacking midfielder Enzo Martinez. “The people are starting to come more and more to the game, so I think if we were able to host a playoff game it would be massive for the club and the city and for the people to enjoy such an event. … Same as last year, no-one thought much about us until the end when we made that huge push to take the home field advantage in the playoffs. This year is the same thing. We have one more game and we control our own destiny it would be awesome and a huge advantage for us to host the first round.”

The Bold FC will be an easy team for the Hounds most faithful to pull for on Saturday as they’re coached by a former Riverhounds goalkeeeper, Ryan Thompson, who played one memorable season in Pittsburgh, in 2015.

Interestingly, Thompson is the first Jamaican head coach in the USL Championship league, and only the second Black head coach.

I am sure some of his old friends from Pittsburgh will be lending their support to Thompson and the Bold FC.

Steel Army to Honor its Player of the Year

As they do before every final home regular season match, the Hounds supporter group will be honoring its Player of the Year.

It will be very interesting to see how the Army’s voting goes, as Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon are certainly in the running, but there could be cases made for Danny Griffin and Kenardo Forbes too.

This is the closest the Hounds have ever played a home match to Halloween day — so it should also be interesting to see how some members of the Army — and other Hounds fans dress for the ocassion on Saturday.

Quick Hits

  • Hounds striker Russell Cicerone leads the team with 16 goals, and he is second on the Hounds with eight assists on the season. Through Wednesday’s play, he was on the only USL Championship player in the top 10 in both categories.
  • Midfielder/winger Alex Dixon has nine goals and nine assists after adding to his team assists lead with the helper on Cicerone’s game winner last Saturday vs. Charleston. Both Dixon and Cicerone have a shot to be the first Hounds player with a 10-goal, 10-assist season; the closest to doing so was Kevin Kerr with 10 goals and nine assists in 2015.
  • Goalkeeper Danny Vitiello has eight shutouts this season after his most recent on Wednesday against Miami FC. That gives him 13 clean sheets since joining the Hounds at the start of 2020, which places him fourth all-time in club history.
  • Midfielder Danny Griffin is the only player who has started every match this season for the Hounds, and he has played all but 12 minutes thus far in 2021. Four others have appeared in every match: Cicerone, Dixon, midfielder Todd Wharton and defender Shane Wiedt. Assuming he appears in Saturday’s match Griffin will have played in every Hounds match over his two seasons with the club.
  • Midfielder Kenardo Forbes is third on the team with six assists this season, and his USL Championship record of 45 career assists is under pressure from one of his opponents today, Hartford’s Danny Barrera. Barrera, who leads the league with 12 assists this season, has 44 in his career after recording an assist in Hartford’s last match against Charleston.
  • In 124 all-competition matches under Bob Lilley, the Hounds have allowed just 111 goals, an average of 0.90 goals per
    game.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Pittsburgh Division I College Soccer Schedule (Spring 2021)

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