Riverhounds SC (11-6-4) vs. FC Tulsa (7-11-4)
Highmark Stadium: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Match statistics: https://www.uslchampionship.com/pittsburghriverhoundssc-fctulsa-2267891
It’s been 21 days since the last home game at Highmark Stadium. A sold out Riverhounds fanbase packed the place to see a 1-0 win over FC Tulsa.
The last match between these two was a scoring fest as the Hounds came away with a 4-3 win. Tonight they won again, but in different fashion.
Coming into the game, it was a relief for Riverhounds fans knowing that JJ Williams the leading goal scorer of Tulsa with nine goals was traded to the Phoenix Rising. But, after coming off a 2-0 victory against the Birmingham Legion, Tulsa looked poised to provide another good performance.
The first half consisted of a lack of getting shots on target. FC Tulsa finished with two shots on target compared to the home sides zero. Riverhounds carried most of the possession but were failing to test Austin Wormell in net.
Tulsa’s 3-4-3 formation turned into what looked like more of a 5-4-1. They sat in and were seeking out counterattack chances.
Bob Lilley stated postgame if he made subs when players aren’t playing good then many of them would have come out in the first half. “We didn’t pass the ball well through the midfield tonight. Guys like Danny Griffin and Kenardo Forbes were making mistakes they don’t normally make.”
Consistently, no matter how the Riverhounds have beaten Tulsa this year, Pittsburgh forward Albert Dikwa has been involved in four out of the five goals.
It took 55 minutes for the home crowd to cheer after seeing the ball enter the back of the net, but it was a great team goal that even got Bob Lilley to raise his fists in the air. “When Dikwa is in motion he’s always better.”
Danny Griffin, a goal line to goal line player, dribbled from the corner kick flag to the edge of the box laying off a pass to Cicerone. His cross connected with Dixon who elegantly laid it off for Dixon to send it home.
“In practice they always tell me to hit it hard so that’s what I did” Dikwa said. “Pittsburgh is energy – we just need to keep working and working.”
The past two seasons Dikwa stated he dealt with many injuries, but that the athletic training staff are his hero’s and have helped him with his nutrition and rehab. Dikwa scored his seventh goal this season which is already five more than last season and the veteran Dixon earned his seventh assist.
Both teams began to make their substitutions on the pitch the last 30 minutes. The Riverhounds locked it in playing a 5-3-1. Sometimes coaches will look for that second goal, but Lilley decided it was best to lock it down.
FC Tulsa didn’t go home without trying. In the final minutes, Machuca had two wide open chances that he couldn’t put away to tie the game.
“We need to play better or else we’ll be chasing a lot next week in Indy” Lilley said. “I want guys to see their way to the end of the game. Hopefully we get better at closing games out.”
After failing to win a game in June the Riverhounds had an undefeated July going 5-0-1. Climbing their way in the standings, the team sits in third place (12-6-4) with 40 points.
Moving forward the team is pleased with how they played in June and have added midfielder Robbie Mertz and forward Edward Kizza.
Since returning from the Riverhounds in 2020, Mertz stated “This team has definitely improved. We’re all very serious about winning. This is the only place I wanted to come back to. I hope we win a championship for Pittsburgh soon.”
Mertz also mentioned this was the most nervous he ever was before a game in a long time. “Coming out of the tunnel I had chills. The reception was great – something I thought I’d never experience.”
The Hounds open August back on the road, where they will face Indy Eleven on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. Indy (6-11-4) also is fighting for its playoff life after a nine-game winless run that includes a 1-0 loss to the Hounds on July 6 in Pittsburgh.
Riverhounds SC lineup (4-1-4-1) — Jahmali Waite; Nate Dossantos, Mekeil Williams, Arturo Ordóñez, Shane Wiedt; Danny Griffin; Russell Cicerone (Jelani Peters 89’), Robbie Mertz (Angelo Kelly 79’), Kenardo Forbes (Marc Ybarra 89’), Alex Dixon (Dani Rovira 79’); Albert Dikwa (Dane Kelly 68’)
FC Tulsa lineup (4-3-3) — Austin Wormell; Ronald Rodriguez, Johnny Fenwick, Adrián Diz Pe, Noah Powder; Kembo Kitano, Eric Bird (Petar Cuic 80’), Bradley Bourgeois; Lebo Molotov (Dario Suárez 66’), Brian Brown (Marlon Ramirez 80’), Rodrigo da Costa
PIT — Albert Dikwa 55’ (Alex Dixon)
PIT — Shane Wiedt 75’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
Final – Riverhounds secure victory 1-0. They’re now 12-6-4 and move up to third place in the eastern conference standings. A longer recap to be posted later in the evening. Great crowd tonight!
90+’ – My goodness, Hounds almost blow the lead in the final minute. Machuca on the breakaway pikes it over the net. Very lucky that didn’t go in. Pittsburgh still leads 1-0.
90′ – 4 minutes of stoppage time added tonight
88′ – Marc Ybarra and Jelani Peters on for Russel Cicerone and Kenardo Forbes.
79′ – 2 subs made on both teams. Dani Rovira and Angelo Kellyon for Alex Dixon and Robbie Mertz. Tulsa subs Petar Cuic and Machuca in for Brian Brown and Eric Bird.
75′ – Wiedt gets a yellow card for making a hard tackle. Game still 1-0 Pittsburgh.
68′ – Dane Kelly coming in now for Albert Dikwa, tonight’s goal scorer.
66′ – Tulsa makes the first sub. The former Riverhound Moloto, is subbed off for Dario Suarez.
62′ – Riverhounds pouring on the chances now. Pittsburgh just gave up a chance tho as Rodrigo Da Costa on Tulsa was wide open for a shot but wasn’t given the ball. Instead Moloto the former Hound took a crack from distance.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) July 31, 2022
55′ – Riverhounds goal!! Griffin with some moves down the goal line, gives it to Cicerone who crosses it into Dixon and lays it off to Dikwa for the finish in the box! 1-0 Hounds. Dixon now with 7 assist this year and Dikwa with 7 goals.
49′ – Beautiful give-n-go by Dixon and Forbes. World class flick by Forbes.
45′ – Second half begins. Both sides looking to get that first goal.
Halftime – Riverhounds and Tulsa tied 0-0 after 45 minutes. Tulsa out shooting 5-4 actually and have 2 on target while the Hounds have none on target. Pittsburgh has 18 crosses but no shots on goal. That’s your problem… shoot the ball!
42′ – Hounds with a free kick chance that they wasted. Tulsa goes back the other way and almost scores! Mekeil Williams saves the day kicking the ball away right before the goal line.
40′ – Pittsburgh knocking on the door but just can’t execute in the final third. Good amounts of possession by the home team and recovering fast when they lose the ball. Just need to score.
29′ – Riverhounds almost pulled off what looked like a practiced set piece. Off the free kick Forbes and Mertz did a give-n-go. Looks like something Bob Lilley has drawn up.
24′ – A bit ago we saw another shot from distance by Shane Wiedt. Seeing that every game now.
17′ – FC Tulsa really packed in defensively right now. Hounds with most of the possession and a couple corner kicks already. Tulsa’s 3-4-3 looking like a 5-4-1.
9′ – A few Hounds fouls so far where some Tulsa players have taken awhile to get up. Crowd ain’t happy about it!
1′ – Game begins here at Highmark! Riverhounds looking to continue their recent success. 4-0-1 in the last 5.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) July 30, 2022
— FC Tulsa (@FCTulsa) July 30, 2022
- Tulsa will make its first-ever trip to Highmark Stadium for today’s game. The teams met for the first time ever on April 9 in Oklahoma, where the Hounds pulled out to a three-goal lead but had to hold on for a 4-3 win. Albert Dikwa was the USL Championship Player of the Week after the first meeting between the Hounds and Tulsa, in which he had two goals and as assist.
- With a 4-0-1 record over their last five games, the Hounds have matched their best five-game stretch in USL Championship matches this season. • The Hounds’ victory over Hartford last week was their first come-from-behind win since Aug. 6, 2021, a 3-2 win at Charleston in which the Hounds trailed 1-0.
- Defender Shane Wiedt scored his second goal in three weeks by blasting home the game-winner in a 2-1 victory at Hartford last Saturday. Between Wiedt and fellow defender Jelani Peters, the Hounds have four goals by defenders in the past three weeks.
- Forward Russell Cicerone is showing the form that made him the team’s top scorer in 2021. Over his last 12 games, he has seven goals and three assists, including the game-tying goal against Hartford. He leads the Hounds with nine goals on the season.
- Hounds captain Kenardo Forbes remains the all-time USL Championship assist leader, and he ran his record total to 53 with a patient set-up on Wiedt’s game-winner last week.
- Midfielder Danny Griffin has played all but 17 minutes since the beginning of the 2021 regular season, starting every league match during that time. He has not missed a league game since turning pro with the Hounds in 2020, appearing in 70 straight USL Championship contests.
- The Hounds added two players this month, Pittsburgh native Robbie Mertz, who begins his second stint with the Hounds after a transfer from Atlanta United 2, and former Pitt striker Edward Kizza, who joins on a loan from the New England Revolution of MLS. Both made their debut at Hartford last Saturday, and Mertz recorded his seventh assist of the season after logging the first six with Atlanta.
- Dane Kelly ended a personal scoring drought with the gametying goal last Saturday at New Mexico. It was his seventh of the season and record 106th in the USL Championship, and he now has scored against 41 different USLC clubs.
- In 148 all-competition matches under Lilley, the Hounds have allowed just 139 goals, an average of 0.94 goals per game.