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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

New signings shine as Riverhounds draw Louisville 1-1

Photo courtesy Mark Goodman

In pre-season action, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds drew Louisville City FC, 1-1, at Highmark Stadium Saturday. Wilson Harris scored for Lou City in the 12th minute, but Alex Dixon tied the game for the Hounds (3-0-1) with a penalty kick in the 31st minute. That PK was created when Albert Dikwa was tripped inside the box.

The game was mostly notable for giving a number of newly signed Riverhounds a good opportunity to stretch their legs and develop some in-game chemistry with one another. New signings Toby Sims, Marc Ybarra, Luke Biasi, Arturo Ordonez, Jesse Williams, and Dane Kelly all got significant time on the pitch.

The quality of play was still certainly rough as players rushed clearances, and weren’t quite precise in their passing or first touch. Regarding the team’s organization, the defense was kept busy dealing with consistent pressure from Louisville, while the Hounds offense had to contend with an aggressive press for much of the first and early second half. Overall, it was a good showing against one of the better teams in USL East, but the rust was clearly evident.

As one might expect, there was a significant amount of squad rotation in the match. Only Jelani Peters and Kenardo Forbes played every minute in the match. In terms of the formation, it look as though the team played primarily with four defenders on the backline, which would be an interesting development.  According to fbref.com, the Hounds played with four at-the-back only 9 times in 2021, against 23 matches where they lined up with 3 centerbacks and two wingbacks. The Riverhounds Dani Rovira, often found at right back in past seasons with Pittsburgh, played exclusively on the day as a defensive midfielder.

Toby Sims, a recent college grad from Division II Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C., had a solid performance locking down the right side of the line as a defender. Later, in the second half, Trinidadian Jesse Williams look calm and collected as the point person for bringing up the ball in the attack, and there is significant buzz regarding the 20-year-old and the potential he possesses.

Pittsburgh gave 45 minutes of action each to its two rostered goalkeepers, Chase Vosvick and Kevin Silva. Of the two, Vosvick was called into action more frequently, although both comported themselves well. It will be an interesting decision for Bob Lilley to decide whether Vosvick, a recent graduate of Loyola University (Maryland), or Silva, who spent 2020 and 2021 with Toronto FC II, will emerge as the starting goalkeeper. Additionally, the Hounds have typically carried three goalkeepers, so the team may still add another netminder in the coming weeks.

After the recent signings of Ybarra, Biasi, Sims, and Vosvick, Pittsburgh currently has 22 players under contract. As noted on the team’s social media account, one trialist played in the match, entering to start the second half.

The Hounds will be in action again Tuesday, March 1 against Pitt at their soccer stadium high atop Oakland known as Ambrose Urbanic Field. The Hounds also play March 5 against West Virginia University back at Highmark Stadium, along the banks of Monongahela.

Their USL 2022 season opener is Saturday, March 12 on the road against Memphis 901 FC.

Photo Gallery from Saturday’s match:

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1st and 2nd half lineups for the Hounds:

Mark Asher Goodman is a writer for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, covering the Riverhounds, the Pitt Men's and Women's teams, and youth soccer. He also co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line with Rabbi and Red.' He has written in the past for the Washington Post, Denver Post, The Athletic, and American Soccer Analysis. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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