The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ 2024 preparations continued at Highmark Stadium as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Indy Eleven in a tight, but not totally boring affair.
As is the case with all preseason performances, you should never take any result or individual display at face value (just ask those of us who fell into the trap of believing the Steelers could be something this season after the summer they had). And given the overhaul that the Hounds have been through with eight newcomers and eleven trialists on the books, they were never going to turn into prime Barcelona right away, as was demonstrated with several misplaced passes and communication errors throughout the game.
The first half certainly had the feel of a game that was the preseason opener for both sides, with plenty of play in the midfield area, but very few clear cut chances close to either goal.
The Hounds thought they had taken the lead inside the opening five minutes, as Edward Kizza stroked the ball past Yannick Oettel in the Indy goal from Kenardo Forbes’ through ball, only for the offside flag to bring the play back. Just over ten minutes later and it was Indy’s chance to feel aggrieved, as Tyler Gibson’s shot from the edge of the box deflected off Augi Williams and trickled past Eric Dick before the assistant’s flag once again cut the celebrations short.
Apart from the odd set piece and one rather risky attempt from Dick to turn into Manuel Neuer on the edge of the box, neither stopper was truly tested as the first 45 minutes passed by without major incident.
The second half started with some changes from Bob Lilley and the personnel changes certainly brought a bit of a spark in the side, as the Hounds found themselves with four pretty good opportunities in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Illal Osumanu saw his diving header fly just over, Edward Kizza’s shot went straight into the arms of Cayden Crawford and two chances from Babacar Diene’s going narrowly close to breaking the deadlock.
The best chances undoubtedly came in the final 15 minutes. First a cross from the right-hand side went through about six players from both sides inside the six-yard box, and all it needed was a touch from anyone to guide it home, but nobody was quick enough to get a foot on it, whilst Jedrick Dallman’s flicked header was narrowly adjudged to have been offside, but if he’d have left the ball it was likely going in anyway.
Dallman’s head again proved a threat late on when his flick from a wide freekick smashed against the bar with Crawford well beaten in the Indy goal in what would prove to be the final effort before the referee blew for full time.
Riverhounds HC Bob Lilley after the game:
“I think we were wasteful in the box, there were a lot of balls where we should have been able to get a shot off. To have that many balls bounce in and around the box and not convert was disappointing… The good is that we were in the mix. I’d like to see us get better pressure on the ball, I thought they had free service all day and we did defend well in our box… but the pressure on the ball for me wasn’t good enough.”
“We have a pretty good core, so we’re transforming a little bit, but I don’t feel we’ll ever lose our identity. We want to make teams uncomfortable. We will have an intensity to our play. It’s hard to expect top-end intensity on the first preseason game when you’re still looking at trialists. There are some good things, but we have a lot of work to do. I’m optimistic from this performance that it’s a good starting point.”
Riverhounds (first half): Eric Dick, Junior Etou, Mike DeShields, Illal Osumanu, Chris Pinkham (trialist), Aidan O’Toole (trialist), Danny Griffin, Kenardo Forbes, Edward Kizza, Babacar Diene
Riverhounds (second half): Gabriel Perrotta (trialist), Junior Etou, Jake Lent-Koop, Illal Osumanu, Sean Suber, Dani Rovira, Jackson Walti, Danny Griffin, Robbie Mertz, Edward Kizza, Babacar Diene
Indy Eleven: Yannik Oettel; Younes Boudadi, Josh O’Brien, Adrian Diz Pe, Aedan Stanley; Tyler Gibson, Cam Lindley, Jack Blake; Sebastian Guenzatti, Augi Williams, Douglas Martinez
4 – Edward Kizza has the ball in the net after a neat through ball from Kenardo Forbes, but the play is brought back for offside.
16 – Eric Dick nearly gets caught out trying to be Manuel Neuer, collecting the ball at his feet at the edge of the area and narrowly avoiding losing the ball under pressure before clearing his lines.
17 – Indy Eleven have the ball in the net, as Tyler Gibson’s shot deflects off Augi Williams and trickles in, but the assistant referee’s flag goes up for offside and the score remains 0-0.
19 – Indy Eleven starting to find their feet a little bit more as Augi Williams comes close again, flashing a header just wide from inside the area.
41 – Kenardo Forbes struggles to get the ball out from under his feet in the Indy Eleven box, but when he finally gets a shot away, it’s blocked by a defender before being cleared away.
54 – Hounds starting off strong in the second half as they did the first, Illal Osumanu seeing his diving header fly just over whilst Edward Kizza’s shot went straight into the arms of Cayden Crawford.
57 – Babacar Diene finds himself through on goal down the left flank, but his powerful shot flies high and wide from about 15 yards out.
62 – Babacar Diene gets on the end of Langston Blackstock’s cross, but steers it inches past the post.
76 – HOW HAS THAT STAYED OUT?!?!?! A cross from the right side goes through about 6 different players, all it needed was a touch to go in and it misses them all.
79 – Jedrick Dallman’s flicked header is again ruled out for offside, but if he’d have left it, it might have gone in anyway.
83 – Bob Lilley has just been booked for having some words with the referee… which certainly tells you how seriously he’s taking this.
90 – OFF THE CROSSBAR!!! Jelldrik Dallman’s flicked header from a wide freekick rattles the woodwork with the closest chance either side has had to a goal.