It would not have been enough for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to get their 1,000th goal in franchise history on Saturday night, for two reasons. First, the team sits stop the Eastern Conference in first place on 41 points in 23 games, and after two disappointing losses in the preceding matches, they desperately wanted to return to their winning ways. They needed a win more than they needed a statistical oddity for the history books.
And second, the Hounds fell behind quickly to visiting Memphis 901 FC, conceding goals in the 11th and 35th minutes. The thousandth goal would have been nice, but it wouldn’t have won them the match.
So Pittsburgh scored number 1000, and just kept on going, banging in a total of 4 goals – the team’s 1,000th, 1001st, 1002nd, and 1003rd – in just 48 minutes to earn a 4-2 victory in front of an electric crowd of 5,466. It was the largest regular season USL crowd in team history.*
After falling behind 2-0 in the first half on goals from Luis Fernando and Rodrigo Da Costa**, the Hounds would begin to claw their way back into the game on a messy but meaningful goal. On a long corner in the 41st minute, Danny Griffin would chase down a ball at the corner of the 18 yard box and control it. Griffin then dribbled to the end line and sent a low pass into the mixer in front of goal. A clutch of bodies took turns diving and stabbing at it, but the ball would finally bundle over the line after defender and first-year Hound Joe Farrell got his boot to it.
Farrell’s goal would only bring the tally to 2-1, and the Hounds would enter the locker room behind at half time. It did seem, however, that the momentum had swung.
Indeed it had. Coming out of the half, Pittsburgh scored one goal after another to push the game to 2-2, then 3-2, and finally 4-2. Those three goals bulged the net at the 49 minute, 55 minute, and 61 minute mark respectively, and in the blink of an eye, the match swung from a letdown to a romp.
The game tying goal in the 49th minute was scored by Dani Rovira. Dribbling on the left side, team captain Kenardo Forbes pump faked, then passes across the box to fullback Rovira, who smashed the ball into the underside of the ball with authority to make it 2-2. It was Rovira’s first professional goal and he certainly waited a long time for it, as Saturday’s start was his 98th match since joining the Hounds in March of 2019.
Great night for some soccer at @highmarkstadium tonight. @Memphis901FC came to town and challenged the @RiverhoundsSC but the Hounds outlasted them winning 4-2. Check out the recap and story by @soccer_rabbi over at @pghsoccernow. and the @SteelArmy? As usual; THE BEST fan base… pic.twitter.com/UVKjahmI2x
— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) July 30, 2023
Then in the 55th minute, JC Obregon would get the ball and press forward, only to fire the ball point blank into the waiting hands of Memphis goalkeeper Drew Romig. Romig would easily block it, but Obregon collected it deftly and banged it back to his right. The ball rattled in off the post putting the Hounds on top for the first time, 3-2. Obregon then ecstatically whipped off his shirt, which earned the striker an instant yellow card. This most definitely led to his being subbed off by head coach Bob Lilley a few minutes later.
The Hounds would put the match over the top at 61′ when Tola Showunmi, on a pass from Marc Ybarra, received the ball 10 yards out in front of goal. The native of London England then pirouetted to the inside, took a touch, and put it far post and low for a goal, and the crowd exploded in disbelief. Hounds 4, Area Code FC 2.
After another 20 minutes of solid and organized defending, the game was over.
Head Coach Bob Lilley was pleased with the result and had mostly glowing comments for the press pool. “You talk about ‘Hounds unleashed’. That’s what it felt like. We were trying to be dangerous. We were purposeful. We were intentional.”
He was definitely happy to snap the two game losing streak the team had been on. “Every team struggles for a few games, and I think we snapped out of it.”
“The response was great. It was fun to see. The crowd certainly was a big factor tonight for the guys to keep after it.”
Regarding Joe Farrell’s historic 1,000th goal,*** Lilley noted that the goal itself wasn’t pretty. “It seemed symbolic. Six guys were kicking at the ball at the same time.”
The man going into the record books, Joe Farrell, was positively glowing from his moment in the spotlight.
“It’s amazing,” Farrell said. “This is such a storied franchise. So many great players have walked through these halls and walked on this pitch and worn our colors. Just to get one small goal that happened to be the thousandth is truly amazing.”
Dani Rovira, who scored the equalizer, put his first-ever goal in the context of his larger responsibility for the Hounds. “All I want to do every time I step out there is help the team.”
He concluded on a note that summarized the Hounds take overall on the night: it was important, but mostly just another step in the right direction towards something bigger.
“We want to win,” Rovira said. “We’re hungry. The losses were lessons.”
“As a team, we’re only getting better.”
— Soccer Rabbi (@soccer_rabbi) July 30, 2023
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* It was the fourth largest crowd all-time for the Riverhounds; superseded only by a pair of home playoff matches in 2019 and the 2023 US Open Cup match against Columbus Crew.
** Da Costa was acquired in May from FC Tulsa in exchange for disgruntled forward Phillip Goodrum, who was the Golden Boot runner-up in 2022.
*** It was the 1,000th goal, one for the record books. Kenardo Forbes also recorded his 50th assist, a Riverhounds and USL record. Kenny also played in his 251st match as a Hound. Dani Rovira scored his first-ever professional goal. The win was also Bob Lilley’s 98th with Pittsburgh – he, too is moving towards a historic achievement. So, a lot of big moments all around on the night.
Ed Thompson Photo Gallery
FT RIVERHOUNDS 4, MEMPHIS 901 FC 2 – Riverhounds win a wild one, coming from down by two goals to win it after exploding for four goals over the final 48 minutes of play.
90′ SECOND YELLOW CARD -> RED CARD Grant Smith fouls Dikwa from behind. Smith is sent off. I used to watch him play for the University of Denver a few years back.
Announced crowd of 5,466. Dollar beer night, working its magic.
75′ Etou and Dossantos sub off for Pat Hogan and Robbie Mertz.
63′ Obregon and Showunmi sub off for Luke Biasi and Albert Dikwa.
61′ RIVERHOUNDS GOAL, 4-2 Hounds. Tola Shuwunmi, on a pass from Marc Ybarra, receives the ball 10 yards out in front of goal, pirouettes inside, takes an extra touch, and puts it far post and low for a goal, and suddenly the game has gone bonkers. What got into these guys this week?
55′ RIVERHOUNDS GOAL, 3-2 Hounds. JC Obregon gets the ball and dribbles on, firing point blank into goalkeeper Drew Romig. Romig blocks, Obregon collects and bangs it back to the right; the ball rattles in off the post and the Hounds are back up! YELLOW CARD to Obregon on the play as he whips off his t-shirt.
49′ RIVERHOUNDS GOAL. 2-2. Shortly after the kickoff Kenny Forbes drives down the left and into the box, pump fakes a pass, then passes to the right side to Dani Rovira who absolutely blisters a ball into the crossbar. The ball slaps the underside and rattles into the net, and we are all square on thr southside here in Pittsburgh.
HT – The story of this game is still to be written. Possession and control of chances I think are going to be important in this second half.
41′ RIVERHOUNDS GOAL. 2-1, Memphis leads. On a long corner, Danny Griffin retrieves it at the corner of the 18 yard box, gets to the endline, sends it low and into the mixer in front of goal. A clutch of bodies take turns diving and stabbing at it, but the ball finally bundles over the line after Joe Farrell gets a boot to it. Farrell is playing in from of a large contingent of family visiting from the Philadelphia metro area, including sister Colleen Farrell, a former D-I midfielder with La Salle.
The goal is officially the 1000th goal in Riverhounds history – so trivia dorks, take note.
Also, perhaps there is some life in these Hounds after all.
— Soccer Rabbi (@soccer_rabbi) July 29, 2023
38′ Emerson Hyndman tests Jahmali Waite from distance, but the man from Jamaica parries it away. The Riverhounds somehow do not look up for this one.
35′ GOAL MEMPHIS. 2-0, Memphis. Rodrigo De Costa with a free header in the box; Aaron Molloy on the assist, his second of the match, and the Hounds are in trouble.
32′ Not a lot of action to report. Hounds have been getting into the box but Memphis is getting back in numbers and clearing everything without incident.
11′ GOAL MEMPHIS. 1-0, Memphis. Luis Fernando goal on the pass from Aaron Molloy. Hounds lose track of Fernando making the slanting run from the right side to the middle – Joe Farrell and Nate Dossantos get exposed, and the Hounds will be in a hole of their own making off the start.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Jahmali Waite; Dani Rovira, Arturo Ordonez, Joe Farrell, Nate Dossantos; Junior Etou, Kenardo Forbes, Danny Griffin, Marc Ybarra; JC Obregon, Tola Showunmi
1 hour until show time! ⭐️
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) July 29, 2023
Memphis 901 FC
Romig; Ward, Smith, Peters, Buckmaster; Molloy, Hyndman, Turci; Fernando, Kissiedou, Da Costa
𝐒𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧
— Memphis 901 FC (@Memphis901FC) July 29, 2023