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Hounds Notebook: The new kids on the block, Detroit City FC off to uproarious start in USL Championship

Photo Courtesy Detroit City FC

The Riverhounds SC return home after a two-week road swing to Florida which produced one point.

Yep, just one point.

On the glass-half-full side for the Hounds, it was a pretty important point, as their last result stopped the bleeding on the road, having lost five straight in all competitions away from home prior to their 2-2 draw at The Miami FC on Saturday.

Now, another tough test awaits, as the Hounds are prepare for their first rematch of the season when Detroit City FC visit Highmark Stadium on Saturday evening in a match which pits the third and fourth place teams in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference standings.

Currently, only one point separates the Hounds (7-3-2, 23 points) and Le Rouge (7-2-3, 24 points) in their second and final meeting of the season. (Note, the 2022 schedule will see all Eastern Conference teams play each other twice in the regular season) 

The two sides battled to a 1-1 draw in early April in Michigan in a match that was a tale of two halves.  The Hounds had the upper hand in the first 45 minutes, while Det City FC turned the tables, found the equalizer and played on the front foot for the final 45 minutes.

When the match was over, Det City FC’s Maxi Rodriguez was thinking that a spark could have been lit between the two clubs.

“That’s a good side. I think we’re going to create a rivalry with them, so I’m just thankful we got a point, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a win.”

It was also a match where Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob LIlley went deep into his bench to pencil in his starting eleven.

Takeaways & Player Grades: Lilley takes Hounds’ depth for early season test drive in the Motor City

This past week, the Hounds were glad to have a full week of training without having to travel at week’s end.

With the exception of Mekeil WIlliams, who has been called up on international duty with Trinidad & Tobago, the Hounds should have a mostly full selection of players for this match.

Also, It’s very likely that Highmark Stadium may be under siege on Saturday by Detroit’s most faithful supporters, the Northern Guard, as they’re expected to travel to Pittsburgh in decent numbers.

Detroit City shaking things up in USL Championship

It’s been a momentous and somewhat tumultuous start for Detroit City FC in the USL Championship.  In their first season since moving over from NISA, the club has made some waves throughout the league and across the U.S. soccer landscape with a strong showing on the field with plenty of added noise coming from its intense, loyal supporters.

When the Hounds first faced DCFC in early April, it was still pretty early in thier honeymoon process as a USLC club.  It’s been interesting to watch their continued progress and they’re easily one of the more fascinating teams to follow in USL Championship this season.

Detroit City’s continues to soak up the success story of going from working-class amatuer soccer program to becoming a significant player in the professional ranks, while building tremendous community support along the way.

Many USL Championship media members and close observers weren’t sure what to expect from DCFC at the start of this season.  In our annual preseason predictions show, PSN’s contributors unilaterally looked at this club as the most fascinating new addition to the league, but there was a lot of uncertainty in how they would perform.

They’ve done more than hold their own, with savy manager Trevor James guiding and building a squad that includes some familiar USL Championship and former MLS players .

With an opportunity to host multiple matches at home, playing before packed stands in Hamtramck, MI, DCFC pulled off US Open Cup Third Round upset of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew before falling to USLC’s Louisville City in the fourth round.

DCFC’s success in the past decade has been fueled by incredible community support and the rise of its Supporter Group culture, led by the Northern Guard.  It has been a remarkable accomplishment to build such a large fan base and supporter group for what was for many years — a semi-pro club.

Now, the move to the USL has created tension between supporters and the club.  In its match vs Louisville City FC, DCFC supporters weren’t fully compliant of USL Championship spectator guidelines. The fight with their own front office and current league is over a rule prohibiting them from wearing clothing with the use of certain profanity on it.

Still, there’s a lot of attention being shone toward the USLC’s newest marquee club.  They’ll be featured in recently announced ESPN broadcasts added to the league’s National broadcast schedule.

Pittsburgh’s Steel Army didn’t exactly hit it off with the Northern Guard and citizens of Hamtramck in April either, as Detroit supporters were not exactly happy with some photos Steel Army twitter account had posted of some of the surroundings near Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck.  If you care to see more specifically what that spat was about, you can see in PSN’s Riverhounds Reaction piece that followed that match.

The last time the Hounds saw a large influx of fans come to Pittsburgh may have been with visits againts Louisville City FC, when the Coopers made it here in September 2019 and when FC Cincinnati, which had at least two charter buses full of fans from the Queen City in 2016 and 2017.

Hounds’ nemesis Karl Ouimette added to Det City FC roster

For more on Det City FC, you can also refer back to Mark Goodman’s charmingly fun piece ahead of the last match.

Preview: Detroit City, Charmingly Obnoxious

A name that has been added to the roster since the Hounds last faced DCFC, who brings depth and experience to a strong Detroit group is Karl Ouimette.  He brings the experience of 18 senior international appearances for Canada earlier in his career, having also previously played for the New York Red Bulls and Club de Foot Montreal in Major League Soccer.

To Pittsburgh soccer fans, Ouimette though is most remembered for being on the receiving end of Romeo Parkes’ kick heard round the world.  When Oiumette was with NY Red Bulls II, Parkes delivered a kick to his back after being sent off in a May 2016 match at Highmark Stadium.

Takeaways: Parkes Incident Black Eye For Faltering Riverhounds

Ouimette has also been a thorn in the Hounds side scoring twice in the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinal when the Red Bulls II scored three times in Extra Time to eliminate the Hounds, 4-2, from the USL Cup Playoffs that season.

PSN Hounds vs Det City FC Coverage 

PSN will have live coverage from Highmark Stadium on Saturday, as Jordan Smith and John Krysinsky will be on hand.

In addition, John will be joining Pittsburgh sports radio host Mark Madden at approximately 4 p.m. to talk about the Riverhounds on Friday afternoon on his show on 105.9 WXDX.

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).

Sounding Off on Soccer: Riverhounds Road Woes

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