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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 0, Hartford Athletic 0

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

USL Championship

FINAL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 0, Hartford Athletic 0

USL Championship Match Center

Match Summary

Needing to pick up a win to put pressure on Charlotte Independence in the battle for second place in the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division standings, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC struggled to score, playing the Hartford Athletic to a 0-0 draw in a physical match filled with fouls and yellow cards.

With the result, the Hounds (17-8-7, 58 points) will now travel this coming weekend to open the USL Cup Playoffs against Birmingham Legion FC, a club that features a couple recent prominent former Riverhounds’ Neco Brett and Ryan James.

“We didn’t play well, and we didn’t pass well. We were fortunate that a lot of the dangerous balls in the box didn’t go in on our end. I suppose we defended it well as a back line,” Bob Lilley, Riverhounds SC Head Coach, said. “On a wet surface, we didn’t make the goalkeeper work. Even though it wasn’t a loss in the standings, it was ultimately a loss. We are going to have to go back to work on Monday. Hopefully, we can shake this one off and respond.”

The Hounds held the possession edge (57/43), but lacked enough quality in the final third throughout the night, putting just one of 17 shots attempts on frame.

“We didn’t get into a rhythm as much as we would’ve liked,” Danny Griffin, who is the only Riverhounds player to start every match and played all but 12 minutes of the regular season, said. “We have to take this game with a grain of salt. We’ll look at it and watch the tape, but we know we have to be better when we face Birmingham this weekend.”

Hounds leading scorer Russell Cicerone had a pair of quality opportunities after receiving a pass from center forward Tommy Williamson, but with room to shoot from the left side of the box, he pulled both shots left of the post.

The officials put their whistles to good use throughout the evening, with 39 fouls called and nine yellow cards issued (six to Hartford and three to Pittsburgh).

Danny Vitiello made three saves to record his third shutout in the past four games and ninth on the season, which will rank him among the top five in the USL Championship this season once all games are completed.


First half

The Hounds will lament plenty of missed opportunities in this one, recording 11 shots but only one on goal.

That trend that started in the ninth minute when Tommy Williamson’s layoff pass split the legs of a defender and sent Russell Cicerone toward goal, but his open shot from the top of the box skipped wide.

Mekeil Williams had a good headed chance from a corner in the 18th minute that went just wide, and he later recorded the team’s only shot on goal with a header.

Cicerone again had acres of space after Williamson forced a turnover, be he had a look of disbelief after missing the frame a second time just six minutes before halftime.

Vitiello ended the half with his biggest save of the night, denying a 25-yard blast by Luka Prpa with a diving stop to his right.

Second half

The Hounds struggled to make as many good chances after the break, and Hartford created its own decent chances in the game.

The visitors’ closest moment was a header in the 79th minute by Walmer Martinez, who rose to meet a long free kick and didn’t miss Vitiello’s goal by much.

The Hounds again should have had their goal in the 88th minute, when Kenardo Forbes wisely let a pass from Jordan Dover run past him to an open Anthony Velarde, but Velarde pushed his shot wide to the left of an open net from 15 yards away.

Match Day Updates:

Louisville City takes the lead

Final – After several events and fouls in the final minutes, the game ends in a draw 0-0. The game was clearly disrupted on both sides tonight. Neither team could get into a groove. Riverhounds officially won’t have a home playoff game. They’ll be at Birmingham or Louisville.

90+’ – Now, Etaka gets a yellow card, and HC Bob Lilley gets a yellow card. Oh, and the assistant coach on Hartford’s bench gets a yellow. Only 3 minutes of stoppage time added which is unbelievable.

89′ – A brilliant leave from Forbes off the cross form Dover, but Velarde’s shot just goes wide left. Oh boy, so close. Hartford subs on Cedeno for Obregon Jr. And also, the goalie Caldwell gets a yellow card for wasting time. All that within a minute.

84′ – Armstrong comes on for Wiedt. Riverhounds really trying to get this lead.

75′ – Danny Griffin now gets a yellow for going in hard on a challenge. Fans are not happy.

70′ – Hartford subs Apollon in for Rogers the LB.

68′ – The head coach of Hartford, Harry Watling is given a yellow card.

63′ – Hounds make a big change. Dover, Velarde and Perez now on and Rovira, Wharton and Williamson are off. Dover at RB, Peters at LB, Wiedt and Williams in the middle. Cicerone up top now.

57′ – Obregon Jr now with a yellow. That’s four yellow cards for the away side and one for the Riverhounds. Overall, a chippy night.

56′ – Hartford with the first sub of the game. Etaka now on for Dodson.

54′ – King Kenny with the moves earns the Hounds a corner kick. Rovira now gets a yellow card.

45′ – Second half begins here. Riverhounds looking for that home playoff game still. Austin Bold and the Charlotte Independence don’t play till 9pm.

Half – At the half, the game remains scoreless. Security is walking off with the referees. Don’t think either team is happy with them right now. Hounds just need to execute and maybe not argue with the refs. Stay on their side and win the game.

43′ – Boudadi now given a yellow card for dragging down Rovira. It looked in the box, but the referee calls it just outside… because of course he does.

41′ – Prpa with a great shot but even better save from Vitiello diving back just punching it above the crossbar.

39′ – Williamson sets up Cicerone but he misses it again!! What a great connection they’ve been tonight but Cicerone just can’t seem to find the back of the net tonight. Could be 2-0 easily. Score remains 0-0.

37′ – Rovira with his second bad giveaway of the night. Need to quit that out or Bob will take him out for the second half I’m sure.

31′ – Dixon gets slotted in off a long breakout pass from Peters. Not sure how that got by everybody but Dixon hits it wide left. He tried to curl it with the left foot but didn’t hit it flush.

28′ – Cardona on Hartford now gets a yellow. Opposing team is upset that the Riverhounds haven’t gotten a yellow card yet. There’s literally a foul called every minute… ugh

26′ – Not much pace at all to this game so far. Constant fouls. Referee is calling everything in sight.

16′ – Barrera, the team captain of Hartford is awarded the first yellow card of the night. I feel like that won’t be the last one handed out tonight for both teams.

9′ – Williamson megs a defender with a pass right to the foot of Cicerone, but the Riverhounds leading goal scorer shoots it wide left. Couldn’t seem to get his touch down perfectly. Close chance. Still 0-0.

6′ – Riverhounds in that 4-1-4-1 formation again tonight. Looks to be their game plan now after using the 5-2-3 for most of the season.

1′ – Game begins! Raining pretty hard here at Highmark. Big game tonight with playoff seeding implications.

Follow along here for all updates pertinent to this match, and the Riverhounds SC playoff fate.

The Hounds will need to win and Charlotte (kicking off at 9 p.m. EST) will need to either lose or draw vs Austin for Pittsburgh to secure second place and a home playoff match next Saturday at Highmark Stadium.


PSN’s Riverhounds SC Coverage this week 

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


Jordan joined the Pittsburgh Soccer Now team in 2020 as a contributor to Riverhounds SC & WPIAL coverage. He also just obtained a MBA at Point Park University while being the Graduate Assistant in the Athletics department. Jordan, during his undergrad four years at La Roche University, interned and worked part time for every pro team and several universities in Pittsburgh: Riverhounds SC, Pirates, University of Pittsburgh, La Roche University, Duquesne University, Steelers and the Penguins. With all of these experiences he began to gain a passion to work in sports as a career. Smith played cup soccer for Century United and Beadling during his youth years and also trained with the Riverhounds. He attended South Fayette High School where he helped his team win WPIAL's and a section title his senior year in 2015, while earning All-Section and All-WPIAL honors.

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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