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

Photo courtesy Mark Goodman
USL Championship

Riverhounds (15-8-8) vs. San Antonio FC (22-5-4)

Saturday, October 1  |  7 p.m.  |   Highmark Stadium
Odds: Hounds -105 / Draw +260 / San Antonio +220 (FanDuel)
TV: 22 The PointStreaming: ESPN+
Match statistics: USL Championship Match Center

PSN Coverage:  Mark Goodman (Reporting/Photography)

Preview / What’s At Stake 

Two clubs with high hopes for the postseason meet to start October when the Hounds host league-leading San Antonio FC in the marquee match of the USL Championship weekend on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.

San Antonio comes into the match four points away from clinching the best record in the league for 2022, while the Hounds are still firmly in the race for a home playoff game entering the only Championship game this weekend between teams with more than 50 points in the standings.

Following last week’s 1-1 draw with Orange County SC, Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob Lilley was asked to assess this week’s opponent.  From what he’s seen this season (prior to watching more on them this week), he came away impressed.

“They’re physical.  (They’re) athletic.  The can play very direct,” Lilley said. “They’ll hit a lot of balls forward. Put defenders on their heels  Pick up second balls. They have a strong back three, but will also bring three attackers high. Also, they have a lot of energy and athleticsm in the midfield.”

The history between the two teams is brief; they met for the first time in Texas on Sept. 4, 2021, and Alex Dixon — the Houston-area native — secured a 1-1 draw for the Hounds with his 90th-minute goal.

Dixon’s late header salvages a road draw for Hounds at San Antonio

The Hounds have only lost twice at home this season — par for the course for Bob Lilley‘s teams — but a run of home draws has left points on the table, most recently last week’s 1-1 tie with another Western Conference opponent, Orange County. San Antonio, on the other hand, is 4-0-1 in their past five matches, but their last loss was also their most recent trip to the Eastern Conference when Indy posted a 1-0 win.

Albert Dikwa is the Hounds’ in-form striker with goals in the last two games and four in the past seven, and he likely will be leading the line again as the Hounds aim to zero in on the starting 11 that will take the field when the postseason begins in three weeks. Also back in the mix are defender Jelani Peters, who missed the last match through suspension, and both of the Hounds’ international call-ups — goalkeeper Jahmali Waite and defender Jesse Williams — who returned to training with the club Thursday.

San Antonio is led up front by tall striker Sam Adeniran, who has 10 goals this season on loan from the Seattle Sounders. Their stout back line, one of the best in the league with just 23 goals allowed in 31 games, will be a bit shorthanded, however. Right back and former Hounds player Shannon Gomez and center back Mitchell Taintor are both suspended for the match for a red card and yellow card accumulation, respectively.

Eastern Conference Race for Playoff Positioning

By the end of the night, the Hounds could be anywhere from sixth to third place. On the docket, the other games of interest for the Riverhounds on Saturday include:

  • 6:30 p.m.   –  Detroit City at Loudoun United
  • 7 p.m. – Memphis 901 FC at The Miami FC
  • 8:30 p.m. – Louisville City FC at Rio Grande Valley FC
  • 10 p.m. – Birmingham Legion at Oakland Roots

Plus, on Sunday:

  • 10 p.m. Tampa Bay at Montery Bay
Pos. P W L T GD Pts Form
Louisville City FC
Louisville City FC 31 19 6 6 34 63
remaining games:  DET (10/5), HFD (10/15)
Memphis 901 FC
Memphis 901 FC 30 19 7 4 31 61
RGV (10/5), NY (10/9), @TUL (10/15)
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Tampa Bay Rowdies 30 16 7 7 28 55
LDN (10/8), ELP (10/12), NY (10/15)
Birmingham Legion FC
Birmingham Legion FC 31 16 8 7 19 55
SA (10/9), INDY (10/12)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 31 15 8 8 11 53
@SAC (10/9), OAK (10/15)
Detroit City FC
Detroit City FC 31 13 6 12 12 51
@LOU (10/5),  MIA (10/15)
The Miami FC
The Miami FC

@LV (10/8, @DET (10/15)

31 13 8 10 14 49

Game Notes 

  • Dane Kelly finally returned to action last Saturday, as he came on as a late sub in the 1-1 draw vs Orange County.
  • After picking up a pair of yellow cards and being sent off at Birmingham, Peters was suspended for the Orange County match, but he will be back and available vs San Antonio.
  • Arturo Ordonez and Shane Wiedt (both with seven yellow cards) are one yellow card away from a one-game suspension, while Danny Griffin is sitting on five total yellow cards.  The double-whammy from Peters brought his Y-C total up to five.
  • Dikwa’s goal at Birmingham brought his season total to 10, making him the second Hound with double-digit goals (Cicerone has 12).  The duo has combined for 22 goals and nine assists this season.
  • Alex Dixon continues to be in a significant production drought, as it’s been nine matches since he’s had an assist (July 30 vs Tulsa) and 13 since he’s scored a goal (early July, NYRBII).
  • The Hounds meet San Antonio for the second straight season with both teams gearing up for the USL Championship playoffs. The teams’ first-ever meeting ended as a 1-1 draw in San Antonio after Texas native Alex Dixon netted a 90th-minute tying goal for the Hounds on Sept. 4, 2021.
  • Pittsburgh and Louisville are the only two USL Championship clubs to have qualified for the playoffs in each of the past five seasons (2018-22), while Phoenix remains alive to join that pair but likely needs to win out to do so.
  • The Hounds had two players called up to their national teams during the recent international window. Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite was an unused substitute for Jamaica against Argentina last Tuesday in New Jersey, while defender Jesse Williams made his seventh appearance for Trinidad & Tobago by coming off the bench against the host nation last Sunday in the King’s Cup in Thailand.
  • Albert Dikwa has his first double-digit goal season as a professional. The 24-year-old from Cameroon has scored four goals in the Hounds’ past seven matches, including a goal in two straight, to give him 11 on the season.
  • Hounds captain Kenardo Forbes is up to 41 assists as a member of the Hounds, pushing his USL Championship record total to 55. The most recent — setting up Dikwa for his goal last Saturday against Orange County — put Forbes into a three-way tie for the USL Championship assists lead with 10, and it gave him his first career 10-assist season.
  • For the second year in a row, Russell Cicerone hit his stride in the summer months. He leads the Hounds with 12 goals on the season and he is just the third player in team history with consecutive double-digit goal seasons.
  • Dikwa and Cicerone are the fifth set of Hounds teammates to have at least 10 goals in the same season, and the first since 2019 when Neco Brett and Steevan Dos Santos accomplished the feat.
  • 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, and today’s match will be his 81st consecutive appearance in the USL Championship (regular-season and postseason).
  •  In 158 matches under Bob Lilley in all competitions, the Hounds are 82-34-42 and have allowed just 148 goals, an average of 0.94 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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