PITTSBURGH — Forward Edward Kizza scored a brace and led the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to a resounding 4-1 win over the Las Vegas Lights FC Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
The Riverhounds (4-5-2) win’ over the Lights (0-6-4) is their third straight and makes it back-to-back wins in the USL Championship. It also extends the unbeaten streak to six games and is the first time the Riverhounds scored four goals in a game since a 4-1 win over Miami FC in July 2022, also at Highmark Stadium.
Pittsburgh head coach Bob Lilley praised his team for their movement throughout the pitch against Las Vegas. He said that you “unbalance” teams by having players who are talented and move well off the ball to create chances and score goals, which his team did great with on the night.
“I think we’re starting to play through the midfield more, so we’re going to get guys more chances,” Lilley said. “We’re more fluid right now. You see it coming, obviously tonight you get the four goals will help. We’re going to need more people scoring more goals than just Dikwa, so that’s really positive for us.”
Pittsburgh forward Albert Dikwa, who came into the game scoring nine games in his last 10 and five goals in his last three games, had the first real chance in the 11th minute. He found himself in a one-on-one matchup with the Las Vegas goalkeeper, Leo Díaz, but failed to convert as Díaz got to it before he did.
Kizza would get onto the scoresheet for the first goal in the 21st minute. Forward Langston Blackstock sent a cross in, which Díaz got a hand too, making the ball fall right to Kizza, who tapped it in for the opening goal.
We know @edwardk_19 has a nose for goal, and he's got his first league tally (second overall) with this clinical touch home!#PITvLV #HOUNDTAHN pic.twitter.com/nJaKeC96kD
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) May 20, 2023
Kizza would then score again in the 31st minute to double the lead for the Riverhounds. Midfielder Burke Fahling found himself with space and put in a great cross that Kizza ran into in the box and delivered a powerful header.
Once again, it's @edwardk_19 showing how to get to the right spot, and he hammers home a Burke Fahling cross for his second of the game!#PITvLV #HOUNDTAHN pic.twitter.com/wUfix6lPMN
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) May 20, 2023
Kizza came into this game with no goals in nine games in the USL Championship, but came out with two goals in the victory over the Lights. This is also the second time he’s scored two goals in a game, with his last coming against Birmingham Legion FC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last October.
Lilley praised Kizza for his hard-work in the offseason and in practice, despite not scoring recently. Kizza himself said that the work he’s done at practice has improved his game greatly and was glad to finally get on the scoresheet against Las Vegas.
“As a forward, you always have to work off the ball because most of the time people are going to judge you on the goals you’ve scored,” Kizza said. “At the end of the day, you have to come back. If you lose possession, you have to come back and defend. So, keep working off the ball, with the ball, always moving. Sometimes the goals aren’t going to come, but as long as you’re doing so much for the team to win the game, that’s the biggest thing as a forward.”
Pittsburgh continued to create great chances and increased their lead with another goal in the 50th minute. Midfielder Kenardo Forbes took a corner kick and placed a great ball to defender Arturo Ordoñez who made a front post run to make the perfect header for the goal.
Looks like @OrdonezOsuna knows…
When @KenardoF delivers, you know the King is going to put it where you can score it!
👀 Check out the first of the season for Arturo!#PITvLV #HOUNDTAHN pic.twitter.com/eDZ2UryDYA
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) May 21, 2023
Ordoñez spoke on working a lot at practice with Forbes to try and find a “soft spot” in the defense and that they found it against Las Vegas. He also spoke on his former Pitt and current Riverhounds teammate Kizza and the joy he found in both of them scoring together in the match.
“It is nice,” Ordoñez said. “I’m really happy for Kizza. He’s been working really hard and when we played together at Pitt, he was carrying the team a lot of time with goals. It’s really nice to see that he’s achieving his level again. He’s a great player and if he gets his confidence, I know that he’s capable of scoring a lot of goals and helping the team a lot. So I’m really happy for him.”
The Riverhounds finished off their onslaught with midfielder Danny Griffin scoring his first USL Championship goal since returning to the team this month. Forbes took a shot that deflected off a Lights’ defender and landed at the feet of Griffin, who made it 4-0 in the 61st minute.
Las Vegas would break Pittsburgh’s clean sheet with a goal in the 86th minute. A corner fell to a Las Vegas player who took a volley, which defender Marcelo Lage headed in.
Here's Marcelo Lage's first goal as a professional soccer player, presented by @AFCU. #VivaLights ⚽️🎉 pic.twitter.com/bcs00Aldj8
— Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc) May 21, 2023
While the win for the Riverhounds puts them level with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC level in second place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points, the squad and coaching staff are readying themselves for a massive game next week.
Pittsburgh will host an MLS side in The Columbus Crew in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, May 24. The game is almost entirely sold out and the club is expecting the highest attendance ever for a game at Highmark Stadium.
Lilley said that his team is ready for the challenge, but that they’ll need the great Riverhounds fans to help them achieve that goal.
“I think they’ll be ready to put their best foot forward,” Lilley said.
“We’ll need some breaks on the night, we’ll need our fans…We’ll need the crowd to spur us on to give us energy, to drive us forward. That’s our best chance is the 6,000 people in here. Give us that emotion and that energy in the game to go out and compete…”