PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC head coach Bob Lilley has been preparing his team ahead of their matchup against Sacramento Republic FC this Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
This is the third ever meeting between the two sides. Sacramento comes into this match with the most points in the Western Conference in the USL Championship with 30. They also have allowed the least amount of goals, just 11, and scored the second most, with 30, demonstrating their abilities on both ends of the pitch.
“Good team, experienced team,” Lilley said after practice on Friday. “Had a great [U.S.] Open Cup run last year…They’ll be a handful.”
The Riverhounds drew their last matchup against rival Louisville City FC, 0-0, last Saturday at Highmark Stadium. This draw ended an eight game winning streak at home for the Riverhounds and their first draw at home since their opening USL Championship game vs. Miami FC on March 24, which finished 1-1.
Pittsburgh still is on an unbeaten run in the league in the last 10 games, winning six of them and drawing four times. This run has lasted almost three months, with the last time Pittsburgh lost coming on April 22 away at El Paso Locomotive FC.
Lilley sees this match as one pitting two of the best teams in the league against each other. He hopes to get the win in this match to continue building momentum with his squad as they will travel to take on Louisville City FC next Wednesday, July 12.
Forward Albert Dikwa returned to training fully this week, which is a great sign for Pittsburgh. He suffered a clavicle injury against FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup on June 6 and had missed the last four matches. Dikwa has nine goals in 11 matches this year, which is still best in the Eastern Conference.
Midfielder Robbie Mertz is also making his way back into the squad after suffering a foot injury. Both he and Dikwa are questionable for tomorrow night’s match.
“They’ve worked hard with their rehab and, as a group, guys have stepped up, but there’s no doubt they’re key figures for us,” Lilley said.
Defender Nathan Dossantos, who played in all USL Championship games prior to last week’s game, will still sit out for some time. He suffered a tough injury against San Diego Loyal SC on June 25, when defender Camden Reilly came in with a slide tackle from behind and took him out, as he fell to ground, grabbing his right leg.
Lilley subbed off Dossantos after he could no longer run after just 13 minutes. He said on Friday that Dossantos will be out for at least another three weeks, meaning that he’ll miss the next four-five games.
“It’s a big miss,” Lilley said. “We would’ve liked to have him available for Louisville, but just trying to get him healthy. The trainers and the AHN staff have done a great job with our guys getting back in a timely manner.”
Here’s the official RIverhounds Injuiry Report ahead of Saturday’s match:
- Jahmali Waite (international duty – Jamaica) – OUT
- Albert Dikwa (clavicle) – QUESTIONABLE
- Dossantos (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE
- Robbie Mertz (foot) – QUESTIONABLE
Look for PSN’s in-depth match preview and scouting report of Sacramento Republic FC, to post early Saturday.