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Lilley laments despite Dikwa’s double that powers Riverhounds past Loudoun United FC, 3-1

FINAL:  Riverhounds SC 3, Loudoun United FC 1

USL Championship Match Center Stats

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC came away with a positive result, beating 11th place Loudoun United FC, 3-1, at Highmark Stadium before a sellout crowd on Saturday night.

Albert Dikwa jumped back into the league co-lead, with his 15th and 16th goals in the 20th minute and then a late capper in the 89th minute, plus Edward Kizza followed up Dikwa’s early tally two minutes after putting in a rebound from his own shot.

Loudoun made things interesting in the 60th minute, when Kalid ElMedkhar’s strike cut the lead to 2-1, before Dikwa’s second goal late put the match out of reach.

With the win, the Hounds (15-5-9, 54 points) remain in first place, one point ahead of Tampa Bay (53 points).

For the fourth time this season, the Hounds eclipsed the regular-season attendance record with a crowd of 5,512 โ€” the 12th sellout crowd of the season

Despite maintaining a lead in the standings, and pulling out a two-goal victory, Riverhounds Head Coach Bob Lilley wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“Yeah, I let the guys know, that it was good that we won the game, but it was one of our poorer performances,” Lilley said.

“It’s disappointing. I don’t think we should be playing with fire right now. We need to do our jobs better. It was a great crowd. Nice weather. I think we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard.”

HOW IT HAPPENED

After dominating possession from the start, the Hounds couldn’t create a dangerous chance until the 15th minute, when Dani Rovira’s cross connected with Dikwa, who missed his header chance by inches.

In the 20th minute, Dikwa made the most of his next opportunity, as his captain, Kenardo Forbes delivered a perfectly placed ball to his right side, while he was battling away Loudoun defender Bryce Washington on his inside.  Dikwa found room to sneak a hot, low shot inside the right post for his 15th goal of the season, giving the Hounds a 1-0 lead.

Wasting no time, the Hounds came forward again, and this time it was Kizza, who was there to make the most of a second chance, when his first shot, saved by former Hounds Academy keeper Dane Jacomen, came loose.  The Ugandian forward pounced on the rebound to give the Hounds a 2-0 lead in the 22nd minute.

Pittsburgh continued to pressure Loudoun, and had four chances in the same sequence in the 34th minute to increase to a three-goal lead, but consecutive shots from Junior Etou and Dikwa were saved by Jacomen, then two more rebound chances were blocked by Loudoun defenders.

After taking a 2-0 lead into the half, while dominating in most statistical categories, the Hounds were unable to put the match out of reach.

“I don’t think we played with a lot of energy overall. I thought they started really slow. That was a game we needed to put the foot down on the gas.  And we kept them around. If you don’t put teams away in the first half — and we’re taking shortcuts defensively.  It’s a problem.”

Sure enough, Loudoun woke up in the second half to start bringing forward attackers, while the Hounds started to sit deeper.

This gave Kalil ElMedkhar plenty of room to deliver a beautiful, bending shot that Hounds starting keeper Christian Garner had little chance to stop.

The Hounds nearly had a third goal minutes later when Forbes put in the rebound of a shot by Tola Showunmi, but the referee had blown play dead for a head injury to Loudounโ€™s Bryce Washington, who blocked the initial shot.

Pittsburgh seized possession back, and had some bursts of energy with new substitutes Robbie Mertz and Tola Showunmi coming on shortly after the Loudoun goal.

But it wasn’t enough.

โ€œOur energy was poor right from the gate … and we talk about this ad nauseam,โ€ Lilley said.

โ€œThereโ€™s cues that I know if weโ€™re ready to go. We were strolling around out there and they were happy they werenโ€™t getting smashed by multiple goals.โ€

The visitors continued to hang around, and pushed numbers forward, sending in a number of crosses looking for the equalizer.

The Hounds found a clearance in the 88th minute off the foot of late sub Luke Biasi, that hit Dikwa in stride and behind the last Loudoun defender before he even reached the midfield mark.

Dikwa cruised unchallenged all the way into the box, where he stared down Jacomen enough to freeze the keeper, and deliver a clinical finish into the goal to put the match out of reach.

โ€œLet me tell you, thatโ€™s the most difficult position for a striker, that one versus one,โ€ Dikwa said. โ€œYou have a thousand shots in your head. I was just trying to control myself there and make a good decision, make eye contact with the keeper, fake him and put it in.โ€

The added goal took the pressure off the team in the final minutes of the match.

With top-of-the-table and Championship aspirations, Lilley believes that his group must reach another level, and they didn’t show it on Saturday.

Itโ€™s not a little tweak now here and there. Weโ€™ve got a lot of work to do to, hopefully, understand and go into Miami (next week) with the right habits and mindset,โ€ Lilley said.

โ€œThis is stuff that you get frustrated with in preseason. Maybe some is the opponent, but some of it is our guys taking shortcuts, and the reality is you only get away with it so many times.โ€

Next up, the first-place Hounds will travel to Miami, to take on The Miami FC, on Saturday, September 16.

Riverhounds SC lineup (5-3-2) โ€” Christian Garner; Junior Etou, Nate Dossantos, Joe Farrell (Luke Biasi 86โ€™), Arturo Ordรณรฑez, Dani Rovira (Pat Hogan 86โ€™); Kenardo Forbes, Danny Griffin, Marc Ybarra (Robbie Mertz 63โ€™); Edward Kizza (Tola Showunmi 63โ€™), Albert Dikwa (Illal Osumanu 90+1โ€™)

Loudoun United FC (4-4-2) โ€” Dane Jacomen; Jacob Greene (Abdoul Koanda 90+1โ€™), Bryce Washington (Jeremy Garay 72โ€™), Yanis Leerman, Harvey Neville; Cole Turner, Aidan Rocha, Kalil ElMedkhar, Chris Hegardt (Juan Ramirez 90+1โ€™); Tommy Williamson (Wesley Leggett 72โ€™), Zach Ryan (Isaac Espinal 90+1โ€™)

Scoring summary

PIT โ€” Albert Dikwa 21โ€™ (Kenardo Forbes)
PIT โ€” Edward Kizza 23โ€™
LDN โ€” Kalil ElMedkhar 61โ€™ (Jacob Greene)
PIT โ€” Albert Dikwa 89โ€™ (Luke Biasi)

Discipline summary

LDN โ€” Wesley Leggett 74โ€™ (caution โ€“ reckless foul)
PIT โ€” Joe Farrell 77โ€™ (caution โ€“ tactical foul)

 

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 Menโ€™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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