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Preview: Riverhounds looking for bounce back result vs meddling Indy Eleven

File photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

The Riverhounds finally hit a bump in the road on Saturday night, losing 3-1, at longtime rival, Charleston Battery, for its first loss in league play in 13 matches, going back to April.

Despite fielding a strong starting lineup, the Hounds were not able to wrestle the momentum away from the Battery, and as that match became open-ended with action going both ways, Pittsburgh was unable to convert on its chances.

Riverhounds pummeled in Charleston, 3-1, for first league loss since April

The Hounds (10-3-8 | W-L-D) return home where they have not lost this season, for another extended homestand this Summer, starting with Wednesday night’s clash with Indy Eleven.

Heading into this match, Pittsburgh has three players on the injury report, following Mike DeShields’ injury (left the Charleston match with a concussion and has been ruled out for Wednesday), and both defenders Nate Dossantos and Illal Osumanu have lingering ankle issues and are listed as questionable.

With this match being a midweek clash between two Saturday contests, expect Head Coach Bob Lilley to continue to do what he’s been doing all season — dip deep into his roster to rely on a heavy dose of squad rotation.

Wednesday’s game also will include a somber note, as the Hounds will pay tribute to their former coach and general manager, Gene Klein, who died Monday after a battle with cancer.

Pittsburgh soccer icon Gene Klein passes away after battle with cancer

A moment of silence will be held prior to the match in remembrance of Klein, and the Hounds players will be wearing armbands in honor of the Hall of Famer.

Catching Up with the Indy Eleven 

The Hounds faced Indy in April, as PSN contributor Dan Angell was there for 1-1 draw, which Indy showed some fight in getting a goal back late.

Hounds Forced to Settle For 1-1 Draw at Indy Eleven

Heading into the season the Eleven were touted as a team to watch, as they made numerous off season additions that provided them with a handful of talented midfielders and attackers, but to this point, it hasn’t materialized.

Here’s my scouting report/preview ahead of that last match between the clubs in April.

Preview and Scouting Report: Traveling Hounds looking for road goals in ‘clash of styles’ match-up vs underachieving Indy

Heading into Wednesday’s match, Indy (5-7-7, 22 points) are in a fight to get and stay over the playoff line, as they currently sit one point behind Detroit.  They currently have two players that land on their injury report, who’ve been ruled out: Bryam Rebellon (L adductor), DF Jesús Vazquez (leg)

The one thing that they’ve been of late is the pain in the side of some of the top teams in the league, playing San Diego, Charleston and Tampa Bay to tightly contested draws.

And there’s a lot of scoring talent, who haven’t scored a lot of goals this season filtered all over the Eleven roster.

Aodhan Quinn leads the Eleven with six goals on the season, and the veteran is surrounded by other experienced USL players such as Sebastián Guenzatti and Cam Lindley, to name just a few.

The 31 year-old Quinn is Indy’s durable, playmaking veteran leader in the same mold as the Hounds’ Kenardo Forbes. Quinn reached the 20,000-minute mark in USL Championship regular season action with his 90 minutes played against Charleston on July 12, and went on to become the USLC’s leader in regular-season minutes played at 20,096 after 90 against Tampa Bay on July 22.

The all-time series between the teams is littered with tight matches, and only two of 12 meetings between the Hounds and Indy have been settled by multiple goals. If the Hounds are able to find more than one goal Wednesday, it will make history, as the team is just two away from scoring 1,000 goals in its 24 years of play.

Match-ups to Watch 

This is another ‘clash of styles’ match between these two clubs, who are both pretty stingy and proficient defensively.  However, Indy loves to knock the ball around and play a possession-based style.

Against one of the teams that’s hot on the Hounds’ heels, vs third place Tampa Bay on Saturday, Indy held the possession advantage (58/42), and came out strong but couldn’t convert despite completely outplaying Tampa in the first half.  The second half, they showed their defensive prowess, holding on despite a lot of pressure from the Rowdies.

Indy enters the contest first by a country mile in the Championship with a 64% possession rate and third in passing accuracy at 82%, while the Riverhounds place third from the bottom of the league in each category at 43% and 72%, respectively.

Here’s a pretty cool chart (courtesy of Indy Eleven) that lists the tale of the tape’ between the two sides:

21 Games 19
26 Goals 20
15 Goals Conceded 21
20 Assists 11
76 SOT 59
45 Shots Faced 74
10 Clean Sheets 6

So good this season at home in pressing and forcing opponents into making mistakes, the Hounds will likely use fresh legs and heavy rotation of forwards and midfielders pushing up to disrupt the Indy Eleven back line — and keep Indy spending most of its time playing out of the back and central midfield.  The key for the Eleven will be how much the Hounds can make life miserable for the talented central midfield combination of Lindley and Quinn, and deny any chances for its attacking talent, which includes two of the best goal scorers in USL Championship’s recent history — Solomon Asante and Guenzatti.

Much like the Hounds, Indy may be forced into using heavy squad rotation, so expect to see one or more of these veterans coming off the bench as a potential second half impact player.

Indy’s Starting XI on Saturday vs Tampa Bay.  

John K’s Projected Hounds Lineup

Pittsburgh’s starters and those who came off the bench on Saturday included:  Jahmali Waite; Dani Rovira (Junior Etou 46’), Mike DeShields (Pat Hogan 77’), Joe Farrell (Langston Blackstock 62’), Arturo Ordóñez, DZ Harmon; Danny Griffin, Robbie Mertz (JC Obregón 62’); Kenardo Forbes (Edward Kizza 62’), Albert Dikwa, Marc Ybarra.

Also in the 18, but didn’t play included goalkeeper Christian Garner and midfielder Trevor Zwetsloot.

Not playing or being featured in the 18 on Saturday include Burke Fahling, Tola Showunmi, Luke Biasi and Tony Lopez, plus goalkeeper Jonathan Gomes, all who could potentially land on the team’s 18 and potentially into the starting lineup on Wednesday night.

Will this be a chance for Juan Carlos Obregon to get his first start as a Hound?   Will Robbie Mertz and Kenardo Forbes start midweek match?  With three center backs out of the lineup, will Bob Lilley go to a four-man back line?

This is something we’ll have to keep an eye out for as the lineups are released.

Riverhounds (10-3-8) vs. Indy Eleven (5-7-7)
Date: Wednesday, July 26
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Highmark Stadium
Tickets: Ticketmaster
Odds: Hounds -185 / Draw +260 / Indianapolis +500 (FanDuel)
TV: Pittsburgh’s CW
Streaming: ESPN+ (national), Pittsburgh’s CW (local)
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtags: #PITvIND and #HOUNDTAHN

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).

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Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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