Riverhounds SC Post Match Coverage on Pittsburgh Soccer Now is presented by The Bulldog Pub
INDIANAPOLIS — For 65 minutes, it appeared that one goal would be enough for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to walk away from Saturday’s match against Indy Eleven with all three points.
The Hounds’ attack hadn’t done much since Albert Dikwa’s marker in the 18th minute, but Indy Eleven had been no better in the final third. As long as Pittsburgh didn’t have a mistake or a bad bounce, this match was set up perfectly for the Hounds to claim their third straight win in Indianapolis.
But then Eleven changed the match by bringing on Jack Blake and Douglas Martinez, and in the 81st minute, Blake made the Hounds pay for their lack of aggression.
Robby Dambrot’s cross seemed harmless at first, especially when Pittsburgh keeper Jahmali Waite punched it away, but the punch left him out of position for a rebound. That proved unfortunate when the ball bounced right to Blake, who had an open net to aim for. The Scotsman buried the shot, tying the match and throwing the Hounds into chaos. Pittsburgh couldn’t regain its aggression in time to mount a counter, having to instead settle for a 1-1 draw with the Eleven.
“It was a pretty good performance from us in the first half, but I thought Indy kind of worked their way into the game near the end of the half,” Pittsburgh coach Bob Lilley said. “We probably needed a second goal, and I don’t know if we were ambitious enough. We had a few counters, but I think we could have been a bit more proactive trying to get that second goal.”
Instead, the Riverhounds (2-2-4, 10 points) seemed content to sit back and let the game come to them after Luke Biasi found Dikwa for the opening goal. While that worked out well for Pittsburgh’s defense and kept Eleven (1-3-3, 6 points) from threatening, it also led Indy to believe that it should be the team to take control of the match as the second half unfolded.
When Eleven coach Mark Lowry chose to bring on Blake and Martinez, the Eleven felt confident enough to push forward, using Pittsburgh’s lack of aggression against it. Despite coming into the match having scored just four times in six matches, Indy seemed to believe that something would go its way if it kept pushing at Pittsburgh’s back line.
And that’s exactly what happened, as Blake found himself in the right place at the right time to bury the open shot.
“We got a lucky bounce, and that’s not happened that often this season,” Blake said. “I think sometimes that’s football. You go on good runs and bad runs, and we have a very talented team with a lot of new players, so it takes time.”
Unlike Waite’s mistake in El Paso, this goal was nothing more than a case of an unlucky bounce from Pittsburgh, which Lilley instantly recognized. He didn’t fault Waite or anyone else on the defense; he simply wished the ball had landed elsewhere.
“Jahmali actually made a good play to punch it, but it just went right to Blake,” Lilley said. “Technically, he didn’t take a big swing at it. He’s just a quality player that knew if he steers it on frame (it would go in). If he had to trap it, maybe we get out and block it.”
But the Hounds couldn’t save the two points, because they hadn’t done enough to secure them earlier.
“Guys have to run behind,” he said. “We had balls in higher areas and had some possession at midfield, but when we get in their half, we stay behind Dikwa and (Edward) Kizza and watch. We need more risk-taking to get higher up the pitch and make the other team defend. Their forwards and midfielders didn’t have to run into their half very often; it’s almost like they defended with just their center backs.”
And that left the Riverhounds with a painful lesson on this trip to Indianapolis: if they want to win matches away from Highmark Stadium, they can’t settle for one goal.
“With our last (USL) match being a loss, we needed a win,” Biasi said. “It’s always good to get a point away, but to get on top of that game early and take the lead, we were really hoping to close it out. We thought we had it in our hands, and we let it slip. It’s really disappointing.”