The Riverhounds will be taking on its biggest nemesis in recent history, Louisville City FC, on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
The club will look to extend its unbeaten streak, while looking to create some serious distance between them and the defending Eastern Conference champions, and two-time USL Cup winners.
But, there’s still more than half of the regular season to go for the club, as they currently sit at the top of the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference standings.
If there’s one team that Pittsburgh would love to distance themselves from in the standings it’s the Purple and Gold, who have been a regular nemesis for the Hounds since they’ve come into existence, especially in the postseason.
Both mainstays at the top of the Eastern Conference standings in recent years, the two clubs have met in the postseason three of the past four years, including 2022’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, which Louisville won in a penalty kick shootout.
It was a bitter loss for the Hounds, who held a 2-0 lead as late as the 82nd minute.
The Riverhounds nine-game unbeaten streak in the USL Championship will be put to the test yet again as well as their impressive, unbeaten 9-0-1 home record this season.
They’ll have to do what they’ve continued to do, look deep into its roster and to the next man up to get through another tough challenge.
Injury Report for the Riverhounds
As the Riverhounds SC sit in the top spot in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference standings, they do so with 24 different players who have been plugged into the starting eleven.
Like many teams enduring a long season, the Hounds have dealt with their share of injuries and absences.
- Junior Etou for almost two months with a broken arm, but has since returned
- leading goal scorer Albert Dikwa has sustained a couple injuries, including a clavicle injury that has taken the Cameroonian striker out of the mix for an extended absence
- Robbie Mertz has been dealing with foot injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the last four games
- Nathan Dossantos went down with an injury on Saturday.
Dossantos suffered an injury in the last game out when San Diego defender Camden Reilly came in with a slide tackle from behind and took out Dossantos, as he fell to ground, grabbing his right leg.
Lilley subbed off Dossantos after he could no longer run after just 13 minutes.
Dossantos had a boot on his right leg initially, but at practice at AHN Montour Sports Junction Complex on Thursday, he had an ice pack on his leg. He did not train at practice and watched his teammates from the sideline.
Dossantos will likely not play for the Riverhounds Saturday night.
This is a big blow for them, as he has played every USL Championship game so far. He was one of just three players to play every game for the Riverhounds, along with midfielders Kenardo Forbes and Marc Ybarra.
Defender Michael DeShields, who also came off with an injury on Thursday, practiced with the team on Thursday and looks fit to play against Louisville.
The good news for Hounds fans, forward Albert Dikwa and midfielder Robbie Mertz both practiced this week as well, but both were wearing green pinnies, meaning they were no contact. This is the first full week of practice for Mertz after suffering a foot injury and Dikwa should be coming back soon from a clavicle injury.
The formal injury report is as follows:
- Albert Dikwa (clavicle) – OUT
- Jahmali Waite (international duty – Jamaica) – OUT
- Nate Dossantos (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE
- Robbie Mertz (foot) – QUESTIONABLE
Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite is still on international duty with Jamaica for the 2023 Gold Cup. Jamaica drew with the U.S. 1-1 in the first game on June 24 and defeated Caribbean rival, Trinidad and Tobago, 4-1 on Wednesday. They finish off group play against a Carribean side in St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday, July 2.
The Riverhounds current starting goalkeeper is Luis Zamudio, who the team acquired on loan from D.C. United. Zamudio kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw against Oakland Roots SC on June 17 and then stayed strong in goal against San Diego in the 2-1 win last Saturday.
At training on Thursday, we caught up with Zamudio.
The Gold Cup currently runs through to the middle of July. Jamaica have a strong team with plenty of Premier League players in forwards Demarai Gray (Everton), Michail Antonio (West Ham United) and Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), midfielder Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham) and defenders in Ethan Pinnock (Brentford) and Amari’i Bell (Luton Town.
If they make it to that final on July 16, Waite will miss the next four games, which includes Louisville twice and Sacramento Republic FC and Detroit City FC at home.
Christian Garner served as back-up goalkeeper against San Diego, while Jonathan Gomes served as back-up goalkeeper against Oakland. Who Lilley chooses to pick for back-up goalkeeper going forward will be interesting to see.
Louisville City FC: Scouting Report
Look for John Krysinsky’s match preview and more detailed scouting report of Louisville City FC to come on Saturday morning.
Krysinsky and Ed Thompson will have Pittsburgh Soccer Now’s match day coverage from Highmark Stadium on Saturday night.