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Hounds Notebook: Lilley, players and fans hoping for home match as MLS opponent awaits in 4th Round of Open Cup

This has been very busy week for Bob Lilley and his Riverhounds squad.

The Hounds’ Head Coach mentioned in his post match press conference following the team’s Third Round Open Cup 2-0 victory vs the Maryland Bobcats on Tuesday night, that they’ve been ‘bouncing around the country’ for much of the first part of the season, playing five of its first seven league matches on the road, all of those in different time zones.

The team, on fairly short rest, is focused on preparing to face the Indy Eleven for the first time this season, on the road of course, on Saturday night (8 p.m. kickoff).

It’s a fairly pivotal league match, as the Hounds hope to end a three-game winless and scoreless streak on the road.  There’s another streak of sorts the Hounds will want to snap too, but more on that later on the back end of this notebook.

While the Hounds know the league schedule will become more home friendly as things will even out when they hit the late Spring-early Summer stretch with an abundance of home matches at Highmark Stadium, there’s at least one (or more) home match they would really love to see happen.

Consensus among the fans, the players and even Head Coach Bob Lilley, is that they would love to finally — after eight years — host an MLS side once again at Highmark Stadium.

“We want to give the fans an opportunity to see our guys against an MLS team and test ourselves in that situation,” Lilley said.

“We had an exceptional first half last year in Cincinnati. We had more of the ball, and I felt we could’ve went into halftime with a lead. In the second half they added some guys and so did we. The game tilted in their favor, and we hung on to get to overtime, but didn’t get the win.

On Thursday, the Hounds may get their wish, but it will still be up to the luck of the draw.  Following Wednesday’s results in the Open Cup, U.S. Soccer announced its initial pairings ahead of the draw, which will take place 2 p.m. Thursday (B/R YouTube).


The Hounds have history with only one of the three potential opponents.

As you may recall, they faced DC United in May 2015, in the last match against an MLS opponent at Highmark Stadium.  It was a memorable match that went to extra time, played before an overflow crowd.


Serving as the ball boy that day was none other than Anders Bordoy, who was signed to a USL Academy Contract, and saw his first action with the senior club on Tuesday late in the match, contributing to the second goal after a terrific strike on target.

“Seeing an MLS team, playing in my hometown, and being there, watching with my own eyes, that was an amazing experience,” Bodroy said after getting his first professional playing experience, helping the Hounds defeat Maryland on Tuesday night.

“To be able to be a part of helping our team advance to the next round, this year, is very exciting.  I look back at that moment, and now, to be here, I wouldn’t have ever thought that would be something I would be a part of.”

You can watch Thursday’s Open Cup draw right here…

Open Cup Win Provides Opportunities for Valuable Minutes 

Lilley was pleased to finally give a number of players on his roster significant playing minutes in Tuesday night’s win.

“Some of them have come on as substitutes and made contributions, but some of the guys that played tonight didn’t have a lot of minutes logged. Not only did they get minutes, they got starters’ minutes and in some cases, 90 minutes. They had a responsibility that’s different from coming in for 10 minutes and mopping up. idn’t play.”

The Hounds lined up for the first time this season without Albert Dikwa in the top forward spot, while they reverted back to the 4-2-3-1 formation we’ve seen a lot this year.

Getting their first starts with the club included Mike DeShields (along the backline as a center back pairing with Pat Hogan), attackers Tola Showunmi (in the top spot), DZ Harmon and Langston Blackstock.  It was the second start for Trevor Zwetsloot, Burke Fahling and Christian Garner as well.

Only three players who have contributed significant minutes this season, Robbie Mertz, Luke Biasi and Hogan, were also part of the starting XI.

Added to the mix later in the match as subs, Edward Kizza, who had not scored a goal in 2023, along with Nate Dossantos in the 69th minute.  A couple more regulars, Arturo Ordonez and Marc Ybarra came on in the 84th minute to help with holding the lead, then Lilley brought on the Academy product, Bordoy.

For Kizza, who has started four of the team’s six league matches, it was a confidence builder to get back on the scoresheet.

“The biggest thing (as a substitute) is asking how you can influence the game,” Kizza said.

“The guys who have been playing have already been giving all they can, so it’s about what you can do to help the team get a result and tonight, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, you just want to make a difference.”

Gearing up for Indy Eleven (and the Red Card jinx)

On Wednesday night, Indy Eleven had an Open Cup match of its own, losing on the road in Columbus, 1-0.

Now, on short rest, both the Hounds and Eleven will face each other looking to get on track in league play.

A team that made a lot of big changes to its roster in the offseason, the Eleven have yet to fulfill potential expectations as a serious contender, with just one win in six matches (1-2-3, 5 points, -4 GD).

We will have more on the match-up in the next couple days.

Pittsburgh Soccer Now Midwest contributor Dan Angell will be providing coverage from Indianapolis on Saturday night.  We are always very happy to have Dan’s first-rate reporting, but we have to wonder though, if a rather unique jinx is real or a massive coincidence.

In the last five matches Dan has covered for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, and in the last case, on the same night he was covering a Union-FC Cincy match for Philadelphia Soccer Now, the Riverhounds or Pitt men’s soccer have seen at least one (or more) player be sent off with a red card.

Ironically, the Pittsburgh teams still won three of the five matches.

That’s right.

Here’s a list of those matches:

We look forward to seeing what will happen in Indy, as there never seems like there’s a dull moment when Dan Angell is on the beat for the Soccer Now sites.



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

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