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Preview & Game Notes: Riverhounds SC vs NY Red Bulls II

Photo courtesy Justin Berl

Riverhounds (13-7-4) vs. New York Red Bulls II (3-18-3)

Saturday, August 20 | 7 p.m. | Highmark Stadium
Odds: Hounds -390 / Draw +480 / New York +700 (FanDuel)
TV: 22 The Point
Streaming: ESPN+
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center

Match Day Updates

Look for lineups to be posted here along with key match highlights and moments.


Recent PSN Hounds Coverage

Takeaways & Player Grades: Riverhounds’ struggles vs top teams continues

Past Hounds-NYRBII Coverage

This will be the 20th, and most likely the last time these two clubs will face each other in league competition.

Here’s a look back at what’s been an interesting series between the clubs.

Riverhounds Falter To Red Bulls II In Extra Time

Takeaways: Parkes Incident Black Eye For Faltering Riverhounds

Hounds knocked from playoff chase, outclassed by Red Bulls II, 2-0

Vincent, subs boost Riverhounds past Red Bulls II

Analysis & Player Grades: Taking the (Red) Bulls by the horns

 

Preview

The Riverhounds look to bounce back from a tough loss to Memphis 901 FC last Saturday. It was only their second loss on Highmark Stadium turf this season, but it was a costly one, as 901 FC surged five points ahead of them in the standings — and have since moved another three point forward after winning on Wednesday night.

The Hounds are now in fifth place and will have some work to do to move back up the ladder in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference standings. They’ll have an opportunity to build points against the teams in the lower portion of the Conference, starting with NY Red Bulls II, who have just three wins this season.

This match will in all likelihood be the final match ever between the two sides in USL Championship. Charleston is the only team on the 2022 schedule the Hounds have faced more often, but because of New York’s impending move to third-division MLS Next Pro, the 20th meeting will likely be the final one for the Hounds and Red Bulls II.

New York was a thorn in the Hounds’ side early in the series, as Red Bulls II knocked the Hounds out of the 2015 playoffs in an extra-time quarterfinal at Red Bull Arena. Recent years have tilted the other way; the Hounds have won seven straight in the series to take an 11-7-1 lead.

The last time the Hounds were coming off a loss — June 25 against Tampa Bay — it was a match against the New York Red Bulls II that got the team back on track.

That 3-0 win in the first meeting against the Baby Bulls kicked off a seven-match unbeaten streak for the Hounds that ended with last Saturday’s defeat against visiting Memphis. Now, once again, the Hounds are coming off a loss, and Red Bulls II is the bounce-back opponent as they hit the final 10 games of the regular season.

Every point is crucial at this point of the season as the Hounds try to secure a home playoff game. And with the next four matches against teams currently on the wrong side of the Eastern Conference playoff line, it should be a prime opportunity to stack wins ahead of a huge Sept. 10 home game against Louisville.

The top concern entering the match is trying to be more efficient in front of goal after a Memphis loss in which the Hounds shot 15 times but only put two on goal. But against a New York team that allows more than two goals per game, there should be prime opportunities for Russell Cicerone (11 goals), Dane Kelly and Albert Dikwa (both with seven goals) to put shots on target.

The Hounds have no players ruled out for the game, but defender Nate Dossantos and forward William Eyang both are listed as questionable after being limited in training. New York, meanwhile, is without some key parts, as defender Juan Castillo and playmaker Jeremy Rafanello both are out with injuries, while 19-year-old Caden Clark — back with the team on loan from Red Bull Leipzig in the Bundesliga — was sent off last week and will miss out through suspension.

Game Notes

• With the announcement of Red Bulls II self-relegating next season to join MLS Next Pro and a playoff meeting looking unlikely, this will be the final battle in an often-entertaining eight-year rivalry between the teams.
• New York had the early lead in the series, including a 2015 playoff win, but the Hounds now hold an 11-7-1 edge in the series on the strength of wins in the past seven meetings, a stretch in which they have outscored New York, 19-3.
• For the second year in a row, forward Russell Cicerone has hit his stride in the summer months. Over his last 15 games, Cicerone has nine goals and three assists. He leads the Hounds with 11 goals on the season — good for ninth in the league entering the week — and he is just the third player in
team history with consecutive double-digit goal seasons.
• Hounds forward Albert Dikwa continued to build on a career season with the only goal of the team’s win over FC Tulsa on
July 30. It was Dikwa’s seventh goal of the season.
• Dikwa and USL Championship all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly (seven goals in 2022) are both on pace to join Cicerone with a double-digit goal total. It would be the first time since the Hounds’ inaugural season in 1999 that the team had three players with 10 or more goals.
• 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 Shane Wiedt’s stoppage-time game winner July 23 in Hartford.
• 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 73 straight USL Championship contests.
• Defender Mekeil Williams made his 100th USL Championship appearance with his start last week against Memphis. A veteran of MLS and European leagues, Williams is the sixth current Hounds player to hit the century mark in Championship
play.
• The Aug. 6 game against Indy was the 150th game for head coach Bob Lilley in all competitions with the Riverhounds. The
club’s all-time wins leader is 80-33-38 overall as he continues his fifth season in charge.
• In 151 matches under Lilley in all competitions, the Hounds have allowed just 141 goals, an average of 0.93 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).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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