USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
#1 Riverhounds 0 vs. #8 Detroit City FC 1
Saturday, Oct. 21
Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
MB’s Quick Recap:
Well what can you say?
Just as the New England Revolution and the Columbus Crew found out this year that underdogs always have a chance in soccer, the Riverhounds suffered the same fate as they fell to the 8th seed in the East on the first shot on goal that Detroit had on them all season.
Head coach Bob Lilley cut a dejected figure in his post-game press conference, but was clear to give Detroit credit for the work they put in to keep the Hounds out:
“I’ve been in game long time. We needed to create more chances. Detroit deserves credit. They mucked it up. (There were a) lot of long balls. Lot of collisions. We weren’t clinical enough when we had our moments,” Lilley stated in his post match press conference.
“Listen, I am proud of our guys. This doesn’t define our season. We went further in the Open Cup. We won the regular season. I know we battled tonight. Detroit is good defensively, and they won a lot of loose balls.”
A solitary goal from Dominic Gasso was enough to give Detroit the win in a very close game in which the Hounds never really had a clear chance to take the lead. Lilley stated, the way the game had played out it was always likely going to come down to that one chance, the chance that sadly fell to the visitors.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) October 22, 2023
“Anyone in stands around 60the minute, maybe one goal would be the difference,” Lilley added.
“One player made a great strike. It went through a lot of bodies. Happens in sports more than you realize. One goal changes everything.”
Attention will now turn to the offseason and perhaps the hardest task of them all, trying to keep as much of this squad together to make another run in 2024, a squad that Lilley was kean to praise despite the disappointing end.
“It’s a great group. Lot of guys will be back. I know when we had our huddle after game. (I) said to guys, keep your head up. It was a great season. We made a great run in the Open Cup. We won the regular season (Players Shield). We did as much as we could expect from them. This team has been a pleasure to coach. Great to see fans out there, getting behind guys.”
Look for more reaction and coverage to come on Pittsburgh Soccer Now platforms.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Hounds were the more adventurous team going forward for much of the match, holding 57 percent of possession and finishing with a 13-3 edge in total shots.
The game’s first golden opportunity fell to leading scorer Albert Dikwa, who nearly pounced on a poor clearance by the Detroit defense inside the goal box, only to have his effort blocked away by a last-ditch sliding tackle in the 17th minute.
Edward Kizza had another good chance in the 24th minute after Kenardo Forbes played a gentle pass through traffic to send him toward goal. Once again, Detroit’s defenders recovered in time to block away the chance. In the end, neither team recorded a shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes, with Detroit logging only one shot overall.
The second half began in chippy fashion, as players came together when Maxi Rodriguez put a challenge into Hounds goalkeeper Jahmali Waite in possession of the ball. Rodriguez and Dikwa were carded in the ensuing melee, but things quickly settled down.
Kizza again had an opportunity in transition after Dani Rovira — who began the counter with his tackle in the Hounds’ box — played a pass behind the defense. Kizza rounded Detroit goalie Nathan Steinwascher, but the keeper did well to force him too far wide to put his shot on goal.
Detroit broke through in the 78th minute from a play that began with a free kick in a wide position. The Hounds did well all night to clear Detroit crosses from the box, but on this play, Danny Griffin’s header made it only as far as Gasso, standing 25 yards from goal. The Detroit midfielder struck the ball with power back through traffic in the box, and the low shot flew between defenders and into the net.
The Hounds pushed forward late with two golden opportunities in stoppage time.
Steinwascher made the game’s most important play when Joe Farrell chipped a ball into the box and Dikwa rose to head it near the penalty spot. The Detroit goalie made a full-extension save to his left, pushing the ball out for a corner kick.
The Hounds got one final chance on a cross from Tola Showunmi, and JC Obrégon rose in traffic to win the header, but his shot lofted just over the bar.
Riverhounds SC lineup (5-3-2) — Jahmali Waite; Junior Etou (Langston Blackstock 83’), Nate Dossantos (Luke Biasi 83’), Joe Farrell, Arturo Ordóñez, Dani Rovira (Tola Showunmi 72’); Kenardo Forbes (JC Obrégon 89’), Danny Griffin, Marc Ybarra; Edward Kizza (Robbie Mertz 72’), Albert Dikwa
Detroit City FC lineup (4-2-3-1) — Nathan Steinwascher; Devon Amoo-Mensah, Stephen Carroll, Matt Lewis, Michael Bryant; Dominic Gasso, Maxi Rodriguez (Jalen Robinson 89’); Rhys Williams, Abdoulaye Diop, Connor Rutz; Ben Morris (Yazeed Matthews 75’)
DET — Dominic Gasso 78’
DET — Matt Lewis 4’ (caution – tactical foul)
PIT — Nate Dossantos 15’ (caution – tactical foul)
DET — Devon Amoo-Mensah 38’ (caution – reckless foul)
DET — Maxi Rodriguez 52’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Albert Dikwa 52’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
MATCH DAY UPDATES
FT: A lot of dejected faces on the pitch and understandably so. Detroit came to play spoiler and they certainly did that, frustrating the Hounds from the start and hitting them late on. The players gather at midfield, a moment that will represent the final time that some will grace the Highmark turf.
Stay tuned for further reaction including HC Bob Lilley’s press conference.
90+5 mins: Another close chance, Showumni’s ball in meets Joe Farrell’s head but it drifts inches over the bar… AND THE WHISTLE GOES. The Hounds are out of the playoffs and their season is over.
90+2 mins: WHAT A SAVE BY STEINWASCHER. He dives to his left to deny Dikwa’s header that was destined for the bottom corner.
90 mins: We will have a minimum of 5 minutes stoppage time.
88 mins: Tola Showunmi’s cross into the box comes off the head of Dikwa but his effort sails over the bar. Meanwhile captain Kenardo Forbes is replaced for JC Obregon for the hosts.
86 mins: Into the final 5 minutes of regulation and the Hounds look to be out of ideas. Can they come up with that one miracle play to stay alive?
83 mins: Bob Lilley rings some further changes. Nate Dossantos comes off the be replaced by Luke Biasi whilst Junior Etou is replaced by Langston Blackstock.
81 mins: Hounds nearly gift the visitors a goal as Yazeed Matthews puts Joe Farrell under pressure trying to shield the ball back to Waite with the Detroit man stealing the ball away. Thankfully he was forced out wide but a very scary moment for the Hounds.
78 mins: GOAL DETROIT CITY… Hounds fail to clear the ball after a wide freekick and Dominic Gasso’s strike goes through a whole bunch of bodies and into the net. Waite would have been unsighted and now the Hounds have just over 10 minutes to save their season.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) October 22, 2023
77 mins: Attendance announced as 6,123 which is an ALL-TIME record for the Hounds at Highmark.
75 mins: Detroit City make their first sub as Ben Morris, who has caused a few problems up front, is replaced by Yazeed Matthews.
74 mins: FIRE CANADA chants erupt from the Steel Army, becoming the latest Pittsburgh sports team to join in the trend.
72 mins: First subs of the game and it’s by the Hounds. Kizza comes off to be replaced by Tola Showunmi whilst Robbie Mertz replaced Dani Rovira.
71 mins: Tola Showunmi and Robbie Mertz are stripped and ready to come on. Meanwhile Kenardo Forbes’ corner nearly catches Nate Steinwascher off guard as he nearly drops the ball over the line from a corner kick.
69 mins: CLOSE from the Hounds. Rovira feeds the ball through to Kizza who takes the ball round the goalkeeper but was pushed a bit too wide and fired his effort high over the bar.
66 mins: Detroit has a freekick out on the left-hand side after Rovira brings down Rhys Williams. Set pieces likely to be the visitor’s best chances to score today… but Waite clears the ball with his fist easily.
63 mins: Past the hour mark now, no changes so far for either side and not a lot of clear-cut chances either.
51 mins: A bit of a flare-up here. Maxi Rodriguez tried to kick the ball whilst Waite had possession, something that Albert Dikwa took exception to by pushing the City player to the floor which caused a bit of a scrum around the incident. Rodriguez and Dikwa were booked, but Dikwa on another day could be off the field.
46 mins: Teams are back out for the second half, and it will be Dikwa who gets the game back underway again.
45+1 mins: And that will be that for the opening 45 minutes. Riverhounds will be frustrated that they didn’t make better use of their chances against a Detroit team that were certainly working hard to keep the scores level.
45 mins: We will have 1 minute of stoppage time before the break.
43 mins: Stephen Carroll tried to catch Waite off guard with a freekick from the halfway line, but the Jamaican easily grabbed the deep ball into the box.
41 mins: Hounds come close again. Junior Etou getting the ball out wide and his cross somehow missing the heads of both Dikwa and Kizza within the 6-yard box.
38 mins: Devon Amoo-Mensah into the book now for the visitors after he appeared to kick out on Dani Rovira after a tackle from the Hounds man.
29 mins: Game getting a bit feisty now, a number of tackles that could easily be given as fouls being waved away by the referee.
20 mins: Detroit gets their best chance so far. Hounds fail to clear after Ben Morris won a header on the edge of the box, and Rhys William’s effort dribbled narrowly wide of Waite’s post.
17 mins: SO CLOSE for the Hounds. Junior Etou’s ball wasn’t cleared by the visitors and Dikwa’s close-range effort was blocked by a closing defender.
15 mins: Nate Dossantos goes into the book after a robust challenge on Ben Morris after a quick counter by the visitors. Looked harsh at first look, but replay shows it was probably the right call.
12 mins: Riverhounds comfortably the better team so far as Detroit start to get their foothold after something of a scrappy start.
5 mins: Junior Etou’s free kick smashes into the wall and Arturo Ordonez slices his rebound over the bar.
4 mins: Riverhounds get the first big chance of the game, Edward Kizza is dragged down on the edge of the box by Matt Lewis who gets a yellow card for his troubles.
19:06: The Hounds will be attacking the Steel Army during the first half… and it’s Detroit who get us underway…
19:02 – Pittsburgh Penguins legend Jeff Jimerson leads us in the singing of the national anthem. Hounds really pulling out all the stops to start off the postseason.
19:00 – The teams are out, fireworks flanking them as they exit the tunnel and Amo leading the charge with a flag at midfield.
Tonight’s lineups –
Riverhounds (3-5-2): Jahmali Waite; Nate Dossantos, Arturo Ordonez, Joe Farrell; Dani Rovira, Danny Griffin, Marc Ybarra, Kenardo Forbes (c), Junior Etou; Albert Dikwa, Edward Kizza
Subs: Christian Garner (GK), Pat Hogan, Langston Blackstock, Luke Biasi, Robbie Mertz, Tola Showumni, Juan Carlos Obregon Jr.
Detroit City FC (4-3-3): Nate Steinwascher; Michael Bryant, Matt Lewis, Stephen Carroll (c), Devon Amoo-Mensah; Dominic Gasso, Abdoulaye Diop, Maxi Rodriguez; Connor Rutz, Ben Morris, Rhys Williams.
Subs: Ryan Shellow (GK), Jalen Robinson, Adrian Billhardt, Richard Ballard, Yazeed Matthews, Oniel Fisher Jr., Dario Suarez.
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) October 21, 2023
Weather — expect RAIN!!!
🌧️ will wrap by midday outside of the mountains and I80. Our 👀turn to the next weather system this evening. Here is the approx. time when it will begin.
If you have evening outdoor plans, bring an ☔️ pic.twitter.com/OaUaLwwUWc
— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) October 21, 2023
After four seasons, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC finally get to host a home playoff match on Saturday night, when they face Detroit City FC.
This match-up between the two Eastern Conference clubs is a return match, as they’ll meet one week after meeting in the final game of the regular season.
The teams played to a scoreless draw in Detroit last Saturday. The point was crucial for Detroit as it secured a playoff berth.
Lilley said it wasn’t the Hounds’ strongest performance coming off an emotional win at Tampa the week before that secured the Eastern Conference championship and most points in the entire league.
This contest will feature two of the league’s best defending units, as despite struggling in the goal-scoring department this year, Detroit has remained competitive despite a minus-9 goal differential, simply because they always remained well-organized, have veteran coach in Trevor James and plenty of experience on its squad.
In the teams first meeting this season on July 15, the Hounds were in control from the first whistle in a 2-0 win.
It was also a contest played in less favorable conditions, as it rained most of the match.
Edward Kizza scored in the first half, and Burke Fahling added the insurance goal in the second half.
One common denominator in the two matches vs Detroit this season, was the Hounds struggled to create many shots.
While Detroit was the worst scoring team in the entire league with only 30 goals, six fewer than anyone else. A strong defense led by the backline of Stephen Carroll, Matt Lewis, Devon Amoo-Mensah and Michael Bryant and keeper Nate Steinwascher carried them into the playoffs.
They yielded 39 goals, which tied for fifth fewest in the league.
The Hounds will look to play their game, which will mean leaning on its midfielders to dictate tempo while looking to create dynamic scoring chances both through build-up and in transition chances as wings and forwards use waves of pressure to disrupt Detroit.
Lilley and the Hounds will be content to keep the ball on the ground, on a night where it may be — to use a Pittsburghese slang — a bit slippy.
In the previous two matches vs Detroit, Lilley saw too many long, arial passes.
“I think when the ball is in the air all game, it’s an equalizer for (Detroit),” Lilley said.
“It’ll be important for us when we’re on the ball we’re making good decisions and connecting passes, not just having everything in the air all the time.”
Heading into Saturday’s match, Lilley told Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s Matthew Baldwin that his team doesn’t feel any extra pressure, being that the Hounds are the top seed and have home field advantage.
“This group has done a good job of just dealing with the games. We have played the bigger games well, and I think that gives us confidence. We’ve played three MLS teams, we’ve played top teams in our conference and had a very good record playing the best teams out west and done well. So I think we know who we are.”
69 – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC created 69 Big Chances per Opta this season and scored all 46 of their goals from inside the penalty area.
7 – Detroit City FC conceded seven penalty kicks in the regular season, second-most of any team in the Championship.
JOHN K’S PROJECTED HOUNDS STARTING XI
- GK: Jahmali Waite
- DEF: Arturo Ordonez, Nate Dossantos, Joe Farrell
- MF: Kenardo Forbes, Danny Griffin, Marc Ybarra, Junior Etou, Dani Rovira
- F: Albert Dikwa, Edward Kizza