In a match that was short on attacking flair and shots, but long on whistles and choppy, physical play, the Riverhounds SC found a way to battle back late in the second half in its home opener, finding a late equalizer from newcomer Burke Fahling in a 1-1 draw with Eastern Conference rival The Miami FC on Friday night at Highmark Stadium.
“I am proud of the guys for the way they responded. Miami was very physical. We didn’t do much for most of the match,” Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob Lilley said.
“It was a battle of attrition.”
Riverhounds controlled possession for most of the first half (58%/42%) edge, but they lacked creativity and couldn’t create many chances in the final third.
A poor defensive lapse led to the only pair of shots on frame for Miami in the first half, as USL Championship veteran Kyle Murphy’s persistence paid off, as he was the recipient of a deflected ball following a second-effort play by his teammate Christian Sorto.
Murphy bulldozed his way toward goal, after his first shot was saved by Hounds keeper Christian Garner, he stayed with the play, and put the rebound back into goal to give the visitors the 1-0 lead.
The visitors from the 305 go in front! 🌴
Kyle Murphy followed up his shot from close range to bag his first goal of the season!#PITvMIA | @TheMiamiFC pic.twitter.com/C9tw2wuOCK
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) March 24, 2023
“We didn’t deal with the first ball,” Lilley explained on a goal he felt was preventable.
“We made multiple mistakes on that play. It bounced between Arturo (Ordonez) and Nate (Dossantos). Then a guy sneaks between the two of them. That shouldn’t happen. They carve out a shot. Even after the initial save was made, Dani Rovira was first on the ball. He needs to kick it sideways. He tried to dribble out of it when he should have kicked the ball out of bounds. That gave Murphy another crack.”
Things were so choppy and physical, Lilley cited that the Hounds decided to play more direct for the remainder of the first 45 minutes, then would make adjustments at the half.
The Hounds had three shot attempts in the first half, none on frame.
“That’s how the game can be sometimes,” Fahling said.
“You have to be willing to win 50/50 balls. You have to be willing to fight. But we did a lot of things that don’t always show up in the stat sheet, that matter, to get back into it.”
The Hounds started to build more positive advances into the final third, finding ways around playing through the middle, where they were meeting a lot of Miami resistance early in the match. Using the width and bringing a bit more speed and fresh legs, all five allotted substitutions, as Fahling along with Tony Lopez, Tola Showunmi, Joe Farrell and Langston Blackstock, helped spur on a late push.
The Hounds would not get a shot on frame until the 86th minute, when Fahling found a ball come to him in the box, about 14 yards from goal follow an initial corner kick attempt header clearance came back his way on the bounce, giving Fahling a chance to deliver a stinging one-time volley into the top left corner.
Burke with a BANGER! 💥
Burke Fahling has drawn @RiverhoundsSC level with a sensational strike from the top of the box!#PITvMIA pic.twitter.com/NwM3G7spOR
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) March 25, 2023
“It was very nice,” Fahling said.
“I was fortunate it bounced the way it did, and luckily we had some big guys in the box who were able to move around and get a piece of it. I’d say it’s the best goal I’ve scored as a professional.”
“(Riverhounds) coach Bob (Lilley) just said to impact on the game,” Fahling said about coming in as a sub. “Everyone is expected to have an impact on the game. Everyone here is a professional player, and everyone is here for a reason. Whether it’s Langston (Blackstock) or Joe (Farrell) or me … it’s go in and do your job. I thought all the guys that came in did a good job tonight. We just have to make sure we’re pushing and we can get a win next time.”
Following the goal, the home opening crowd, which had been relegated to a few boos and heckles toward the official, sprung to life, as did the Hounds in making a late push for the go-ahead goal.
Right before stoppage time, Farrell made his own volley attempt from the top of the box.
The defender’s effort was on target, but Miami goalkeeper Adrían Zendejas made an excellent diving stop to ensure the points were shared.
“I think we coped well (after the first goal) and didn’t give them a ton of chances,” Lilley said.
“It was always going to be a tight game. Miami came in and made it very physical. They didn’t want to give anything away, so it wasn’t real adventurous. There weren’t a lot of holes, so we had to do it with smashmouth football and I thought we did a good job of that in the second half.
“Burke took his chance very well, and it was an important goal to get something out of the game. I felt like it would’ve been very deflating dropping all three points in the home opener.”
#PITvMIA Ed Thompson Photo Gallery
#PITvMIA Post Match Interviews
MF Burke Fahling
#PITvMIA Twitter Reaction
Memory of the night buying my ticket & mark madden coming up by us lol but Blake’s rocket sufficed hope for better results at home tho! Dikwa can’t do it all!
— Sc0tt Kutschbach (@SCOTTYXHOMESICK) March 25, 2023
Was Burke Fahling's left foot was the laser show.
No complaints. No notes. 10/10.
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) March 25, 2023
Dating back to last season, this is the third home game in a row that the Pittsburgh Riverhounds have conceded the opening goal in a game at home. #PITvMIA
— Ryan Allen (@ILM_Ryan) March 24, 2023
Thank you to the Riverhounds for a great game! It was a great time to connect 10-year season ticket holder & director in the mayor’s office, @jakepawlakpgh with Justin from @openfieldintl . A win for kids!
⚽️ https://t.co/f6jDkV7yc1 pic.twitter.com/7v9zSilDWM
— Theresa Kail Smith (@tkailsmith) March 25, 2023
🇺🇸Burke Fahling hits a rocket to equalize for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC against Miami FC!#PITvMIA | #HOUNDTAHN | #ReadyToShine pic.twitter.com/qbFz4M4tuv
— Pedro Rondon (@usasupersoccer) March 25, 2023
🇺🇸Kyle Murphy scores his first goal of the season!#PITvMIA | #USL | #ReadyToShine pic.twitter.com/7grZ6kbRWK
— Pedro Rondon (@usasupersoccer) March 25, 2023
what an absolute rocket! #PITvMIA
— Road Kit Kek 🍀⚽️ (@dougkeklak) March 25, 2023
The @USLChampionship season is off and running. @RiverhoundsSC down 1-0 at the half here with a very physical @TheMiamiFC at @highmarkstadium. See @pghsoccernow following the game for the recap. #PITvMIA #HOUNDTAHN https://t.co/88Qb3z8PfM pic.twitter.com/Oy3VSbc2pP
— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) March 25, 2023
Final – That'll be it. Game ends in a tie, 1-1. Not too much action for the Hounds until the final 10 minutes when they seemed to find their stride. All-time, Pittsburgh is 2-2-3 against Miami. #PITvMIA
— Jordan Smith (@JSmith_1187) March 25, 2023
"Thought they showed good fight. Collective will to get something out the game. We didn't want to drop all three points in our home opener." @RiverhoundsSC HC Bob Lilley on his team's effort in 1-1 draw vs Miami #PITvMIA
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) March 25, 2023
PSN Riverhounds Reaction with John Krysinsky and Jordan Smith