Connect with us

Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Preview and Scouting Report: Riverhounds look to stay on track against revived El Paso Locomotive

File photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (2-1-3, 9 points) will look to build off the momentum from a strong second half in its 2-0 win at home against Rio Grande Valley Toros, as they venture westward once again, this time to face El Paso Locomotive FC (2-3-1, 7 points).  Kickoff is slated for 9:30 p.m. ET.

(Steel Army Watch Party begins 9 p.m. at The Bulldog Pub, in Morningside)

There isn’t much history to go on between the two teams, whose only previous meeting was a 1-0 win for the Hounds last season at Highmark Stadium.

Both sides are also coming off wins.

In a bit of a trend, this is the third straight game where the Hounds will face a team with more than a week off between league matches. The down for much of the early part of the season, then up for the last three Locomotive haven’t taken the field since April 8, when they got a 1-0 win at home over Orange County.

The only player listed on the Hounds’ injury/inactives report is midfielder Junior Etou (out – arm injury).

Taking a Closer Look at El Paso Locomotive FC 

The Hounds should have their hands full on the road playing in very warm conditions in El Paso against a side that has been revived since a terrible start.

Since their first season in the USL Championship, the Locomotive have been a fairly formidable club, making the Western Conference playoffs in each of the first three seasons.  However, they stumbled a bit in 2022, landing under the playoff line for the first time in club history.

In the offseason, they hired a new Head Coach, Brian Clarhaut, who, much like his opposing gaffer on Saturday, Bob Lilley, is a New Jersey native.

“I came here to win,” said Clarhaut, who was hired in mid-December after his last coaching gig in Sweden.

“I cannot stress that enough. I came; I moved my family from Europe to come back home. I wasn’t going to come to a place unless they can win and I truly believe that.”

The Locomotive got off to a rocky start to the season with three straight losses, but have since shocked Louisville in the Derby City with a 3-0 win, then played Tulsa to a 2-2 draw and won last time out on April 8, with a 1-0 victory vs Orange County SC.

Due to the topsy-turvy start, El Paso is a net zero goal differential (8 for and 8 against), but in its last three matches they’ve been a plus-4 (6-2).

Results aside, Locomotive didn’t necessarily play bad in its early season stumbles, but under a new coach, they’ve been working through a new system with a lot of new players, alongside some other club mainstays, like one-time Colorado Rapids goal scorer Luis Solignac.

The Locomotive clearly look like they’re starting to figure things out under their new coach.

It was that surprising 3-0 win at Louisville got the Locomotive rolling.

Solignac has been back to his goal-scoring ways after getting his third of the season, the game-winning goal in their last match against Orange County.

He’s now on the verge of becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer with one more goal.  He currently sits at 29 goals along with Aaron Gomez.

“Of course, it’s important for me. I’ve been with the club for three years and it will be a great achievement for me, but like I always say, I don’t want to score goals and just be happy that I’m the top goal scorer. I want to score goals to win; that’s the main goal.”

This club doesn’t have a lot of U.S.-born players, as Clarhaut has brought in a mix of mid-20’s, experienced pros from both Europe and South and Central America.

For the Locomotive, it appeared that some of the biggest moves of the offseason were bringing in ex Watford and Espanyol defender Marc Navorro, Swede Erik McCue and former Seattle Sounders product Nick Hinds to boost the backline.

Alongside the Spaniard, they welcomed a pair of talented players to the roster from their youth system in Diego Abarca and Joel Maldonado. The bulk of the club’s regular contributors from past seasons return; among them, Yuma along with Solignac, and Ricardo Zacarias signed on to come back and lead the attack.

Playing this season mostly in a 4-4-2, they’ll push numbers forward every chance they get, using its wingers to get forward, and the central midfield pairing of Eric Calvillo, who leads the team with two assists, and Liam Rose will tend to sit deeper in front of the four man back line.  In some ways, they remind me of how Pitt men’s soccer team likes to play, pushing their wingers very high into the attack.

El Paso have been very sharp in possession this season, second in the league in passing accuracy (83%) and third in total passes (2,799).  The Locomotive will also take a lot of shot attempts on goal, as they lead the league in that category (with 90).  But their conversion rate (12%) hovers even lower than the Hounds (14%).

Denys Kostyshyn, a 25-year old Ukrainian product, has been the squad’s most active shot taker, and actually he’s also tops in the USLC in shot attempts this season with 21 (but just six on frame), as he’s the threat the Hounds will have look to slow down on the right wing.

We found another player older than the Hounds’ captain, Kenardo Forbes, as the Locomotive have another wily veteran in 37-year old Spanish journeyman, Yuma (Javier Monsálvez Carazo), who is the team captain, and alongside 26 year-old Hungarian, Bence Pávkovics, they’ve been mainstays as the center back pairing. The duo have played in every minute of every league match thus far this season.

Here’s how the Locomotive lined-up ahead of its last match vs Orange County.

Match-Ups to Watch: 

Up until last Saturday’s two-goal output in the second half, the Hounds had gone without a goal for more than three matches, including two straight goose eggs on the road (at Tulsa and Colorado Springs).  The Hounds have not scored on the road since their 3-1 triumph in Memphis in the second match of the season.

Clarhaut is well-aware that the Hounds are a very disciplined team, and his side cannot afford to make mistakes.

“They can score goals out of nothing, so we got to neutralize space and be very good defensively in our box. If we can take care of that, I fancy our chances at home.”

This figures to be another outing where Pittsburgh may concede the possession numbers overall, but the key will once again be, will they have enough of the ball to create quality chances and can they continue to build on what they did in the second half of last week’s match, when they were more patient when they did have attacking moments to carve out quality chances.

Riverhounds (2-1-3) vs. El Paso Locomotive FC (2-3-1)
Date: Saturday, April 22
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Southwest University Park, El Paso, Texas
Odds: Hounds +220 / Draw +230 / El Paso +105 (FanDuel)
Streaming: ESPN+
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtags: #ELPvPIT and #HOUNDTAHN



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 Kenardo Forbes

Sponsored by The Bulldog Pub

Subscribe to PGH Soccer Now

Enter your email address to subscribe to PGH Soccer Now and receive notifications of new posts by email.

More in Pittsburgh Riverhounds