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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Hounds lose 1-0 to league-best San Antonio

Neither the rain, nor the loss, nor the Riverhounds being effectively eliminated from having a home playoff game would dampen the mood of head coach Bob Lilley on Saturday night as the Riverhounds were defeated 1-0 on a late goal from San Antonio defender Carter Manley. The Hounds played well against the league leaders, and it was a performance that the coach took heart from.

“They’re a good team, and we played really well,” said Coach Lilley after the match. “My focus is on us going to the playoffs.”

Pittsburgh put in a good shift against their big, physical opponents; matching them in possession time, successful duels; and shots; and matching them in overall intensity and success for two-thirds of the game. Only in the final 15 or 20 minutes did San Antonio begin to find space after wearing down the Hounds, allowing them to create more chances, get rebounds, and recycle the ball effectively. It was on one such play that SAFC got an open cross into the box from Nicky Hernandez to an awkwardly positioned Carter Manley. Manley donkey kicked (back-heeled?) the ball past Hounds keeper Jahmali Waite in the 86th minute to take the lead.

A few minutes later, the referee would blow his whistle and make it official.

The Hounds did an excellent job controlling tempo and keeping their opponent from having too much time on the ball for the first 60 minutes. Pittsburgh was less successful, however, at creating chances during the match. Their first shot came at 15′ from a Danny Griffin chance from outside the box. Pittsburgh would get three chances in minutes 28 and 29 off a cross, followed by a corner, and then a shot from Alex Dixon. Dixon would have one more chance in the 53rd minute, and that would be it for the Riverhounds attack. In total, Opta recorded all the Hounds chances adding up to just 0.17 Expected Goals on the night.

Meanwhile, San Antonio was kept off the ball and out of sorts for long stretches of the match, until they could both possess and take chances through the final ten minutes, resulting in the goal that finally did in the Hounds. San Antonio produced a healthy 0.84 xG – most of it from action after the 77th minute.

Coach Lilley understood the lesson of the game to be about persistence and durability. “The first 60 minute of the game, we were the better team. We need to do it for 90 minutes.” But the other lesson was that the Riverhounds are capable of playing at the highest levels in this league. They gave a team atop the Western Conference with 73 points nothing short of a fit in trying to breakthrough against them.

“We could’ve beat a team like New York Red Bull II 3-0 tonight, but if they’re not a playoff team it doesn’t matter. We need to be playing at a high level going into the playoffs. (But) we were razor sharp at moments.”

Defender Arturo Ordóñez stated the match from his perspective – a battle in the trenches and in the air between large-sized strikers and center backs jostling and shoving for position, moment after moment. “They’re really physical. We knew this was going to be a really hard game.”

The game certainly had the feel of one that would be hardscrabble and scrappy down to the wire, and had all the tell tale marking of a 0-0 draw, including two straight hours of dreary drizzle and Fall-temperature rain that tamped down attendance. But at the end, San Antonio found that late goal that they needed to steal all three points.

“It’s frustrating to give up goals at the end of the game,” Ordóñez said, shaking his head gently.

Just before he joined the postgame conference, a rumble and a cheer came up from down below the conference room. San Antonio has just watched the final minutes of Miami FC’s match against Memphis. Their victory, 1-0, would clinch San Antonio’s place as the best team in all of the USL Championship in 2022. The San Antonio players could be heard jumping and shouting for joy just a few meters below the less enthusiastic and more somber proceedings of the Riverhounds as they engaged in their postgame carbo-reloading and protein regeneration.

One wonders if the sounds of a another teams celebration might not inspire the Riverhounds to think what it might take for them, too, to get a chance at some celebrating this season.

Photo Gallery

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Live Ticker

90′: Zebras announce 4 minutes of stoppage time.

88′: Riverhounds subs. Dani Rovira and Luis Argudo come on for Alex Dixon and Shane Weidt.

86′: GOAL San Antonio. Carter Manley puts it away low and right on a cross from Nicky Hernandez and the Hounds are down late, 1-0.

85′: San Antonio has a free kick from 30 yards and puts off the top of the crossbar.

79′: Riverhounds make a change; Edward Kizza for Russell Cicerone and Kelly-Rosales is on for Robbie Mertz.

78′: David Loera (SA) takes a good shot low and hard, but Jahmali Waite saves it.

77′: It’s been a pretty slow match. So far 6 shots for San Antonio, 0 on target; 5 for the Riverhounds, with just 2 on target.

64′: San Antonio takes off Cristian Parano and Jack Lynn for David Loera and Ignacio Bailone.

 

46′: At the half, San Antonio takes off Mohammed Abu for Nicky Hernandez.

HT: 0-0.

45′: We’re on the half. Nothing major to report.

44′: A howl goes up from the crowd. A bouncing ball in the 18 yard box strikes a San Antonio FC players hand, but the refs say nothing. Might be a game-changing no-call.

28′: I’m just back from taking photographs. Because of the weather, I can’t say if any of them are useful at all.

18′: Jordy Delem picks up a yellow for a rough tackle.

Starting XI

Jahmali Waite;  Shane Weidt, Mekeil Williams, Arturo Ordóñez, Jelani Peters; Kenardo Forbes, Danny Griffin; Robbie Mertz, Alex Dixon, Russell Cicerone; Albert Dikwa

Pre-game

Catch John Krysinsky’s incisive pre-game rundown here:

Preview and Game Notes: Riverhounds SC vs San Antonio FC, 7 p.m.

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

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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