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Riverhounds sharpen up in second half to beat Pitt, 2-0

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
USL Championship Preseason / Collegiate Spring Season  

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 2, Pitt 0

Match Summary

Riverhounds got back into the win column behind goals from Robbie Mertz and Pat Hogan in a 2-0 preseason win over the University of Pittsburgh this afternoon at Highmark Stadium.

The Hounds (2-1-1 preseason) posted their second shutout in four preseason matches, with trialist goalkeeper Gabriel Perrotta working the first hour and Eric Dick finishing the final 30 minutes of the combined clean sheet.  For Jay Vidovich and the Pitt Panthers, it was the first match of their Spring season, which saw heavy rotation of players from the first half through the second, including a number of new transfers seeing their first action for the Panthers.

Check out highlights including goals on PSN Instagram stories.

While the Hounds showed marked improvement from its last outing, a 2-0 loss to West Virginia, Head Coach Bob Lilley knows that his squad still has plenty of kinks to work out.

“We forced a lot of turnovers, even in the first half, but our passing wasn’t very good,” Lilley said, of his team’s inability to connect passes and build-up scoring chances.

“It got better, as we started to be more aggressive in getting behind the ball in the second half.  We just used the ball so much better in the second half, we started to create more chances.”

Coming out with a lineup of mostly returning and experienced players for their second-to-last preseason tilt, early chances in the match went the Hounds’ way, most notably a drive down the goal line in the 15th minute by Junior Etou that allowed him to set up Kenardo Forbes, but Forbes shot inside the box drifted wide of the net. The Panthers nearly hit the Hounds on the counter in the 24th minute, but Perrotta came off his line to make his toughest save of the day by standing tall at the top of the box.

The breakthrough came early in the second half, when Kazaiah Sterling — playing his first preseason action in Pittsburgh — broke in behind the left side of the defense. The forward waited as players arrived in the box before picking out Mertz at the back post, who finished with a well-struck shot in the 51st minute for his second goal of the preseason.

Mertz got things started on the Hounds’ second goal in the 65th minute, delivering a corner kick from the left side. Hogan made the near-post run and elevated to turn a glancing header past the goalkeeper, giving the center back his first of the preseason.

The Hounds had chances for a third goal, including another corner kick play from which Babacar Diene slammed the ball off the underside of the crossbar, but no goal was given, as the ball was ruled to have not completely crossed the goal line.

Two former Panthers, Jackson Walti and Edward Kizza, started against their former college side.

“Today was much better, than last week,” Walti explained.  “We can do better soccer-wise and we did that in second half today — put the ball on the floor, make better decisions. And now, going into next week, we feel a lot better about our performance.”

For Walti, a former Pitt captain, it was surreal to be on the field against his former collegiate team.

“That’s always going to be home, so it was weird lining up against Jay (Vidovich) and the boys,” Walti, who played most of the full 90 minutes in Riverhounds central midfield, said.

“I’m happy I didn’t leave (Pitt) and come back and then get beat by them.  Happy to come away with the ‘W’ today.”

The match was the final one at home this preseason for the Hounds, who will bring preseason to a close next week by going on the road to face longtime rivals Louisville City FC at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 1.


Post Match Interviews

Bob Lilley


Jackson Walti

Match Updates:

Look for occasional updates to be posted here from Highmark Stadium.  Plus — added bonus coverage — check out our Instagram page for additional Live Stories Updates


Look for more to come including post match reaction and interviews.

Hounds Starters:

  • GK – Gabriel Perrotta
  • D – Pat Hogan, Danny Griffin, Illal Osumanu, Junior Etou
  • M – Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz, Jackson Walti,
  • F – Babacar Diene, Edward Kizza

Second Half

89′ — Pittsburgh-area native Nate Dragisich in as late sub

84′ — EJ Johnson gets loose and behind Pitt defender, but is denied by keeper (sub came on for Carter ?)

81′ — I can only guess, but my hunch is that Bob Lilley wasn’t pleased with Hounds first half effort. Second half though — much, much more movement off the ball and sharper passing in final third has kept Pitt on its heels.

74′ – Even more changes now: Sean Suber and Mike DeShields step in along the back line, taking the spots of Osumanu and Hogan, the goal scorer.

71′ — Sub — Riverhounds’ EJ Johnson (non-roster invitee) in for Sterling

65′ — GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS SC 2-0 – Pat Hogan

Hounds’ defender rises up near post on corner kick from Robbie Mertz to give the Hounds a two-goal lead. 2-0 Hounds lead Pitt

63′ — SUB – Riverhounds’ Langston Blackstock in for Kenardo Forbes

60′ — Hounds sub — goalkeeper swap — Perrotta gives way for Eric Dick

51′ — GOAL – RIVERHOUNDS SC 2-0 — Robbie Mertz

It’s a one-time laser! Great ball from left side from the non-roster invitee Kazaiah Sterling that finds Mertz with plenty of room and time to tee it up.

47′ – Biasi with a great turn and cross down the right side, and Mertz gets to the ball first but doesn’t get the cleanest of contact on it. Save made by the new man in the Pitt net — again, no numbers on the Panthers’ kits today.

45 — Hounds 2nd half subs:   Kazaiah Sterling (non-roster invitee) in for Diene; Luke Biasi in for Dani Rovira

First Half


Pitt with the last two quality chances.  Riverhounds really could only muster one quality chance, in 15th minute, when Kenardo Forbes missed on a nice cut back pass from Junior Etou.

44′ — Fetiosa has a free kick chance from left edge — and a low, lining drive on frame forces Perrotta to diving save just before ref blows whistle at end of half.

30′ — more of the same.  Hounds five man back line not giving away much space, but Hounds have struggled to build anything up in the final third.

18 — Pitt’s high line top line gets behind Hounds last defenders after long ball — and it’s Guilherme Fetiosa getting denied by Hounds keeper (non-roster invitee) Gabriel Perrotta.

15′ — Through first 15 minutes, Hounds with upper hand, and first real chance, when Junior Etou cut back a pass in middle of box for Kenardo Forbes. The veteran MF missed on his shot chance from 8 yards — hitting it right of post.

5′ — Hounds mostly in control of ball and high press disrupting a lot of what Pitt’s trying to do.

3:57 (1′) — they’ve kicked off.  Hounds wearing all back, while Pitt in all blue kits.



The annual renewal of the City of Pittsburgh’s professional men’s soccer club taking on one of the top collegiate programs in the region will take place on It’s the beginning of the spring campaign for the Pitt Panthers men’s soccer program, which finished with a disappointing (by their recent standards) 2023, losing in the first round of both the ACC and NCAA tournaments, respectively.

Jay Vidovich has already added some transfers to the roster ahead of the 2024 Fall season, with the new players being available to play in the Spring season, starting Saturday afternoon vs the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The Riverhounds are past the halfway point of the preseason, which — if you’re keeping track — they’ve posted a 1-1-1 record overall.  Coming off a lackluster performance on Sunday vs Pitt’s Backyard Brawl rivals West Virginia, the Hounds, with 19 rostered players and a half dozen non-roster invitees battling to land a spot in Pittsburgh for the season, will be looking for a bounce back performance under seventh year Head Coach Bob Lilley.

Heading out to the match — and trying to figure out who will be on either side, we have the latest for both teams’ evolving rosters below:

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 2024 Roster by Position

Pat Hogan
Dani Rovira
Mike DeShields
Luke Biasi
Illal Osumanu
Pierre Cayet (New Addition) (New England Revolution II/MLS Next Pro)
Sean Super (New Addition) (Huntsville City FC/MLS Next Pro)

Danny Griffin
Junior Etou
Kenardo Forbes
Robbie Mertz
Jackson Walti (New Addition) (Austin FC II/Colorado Rapids II/MLS Next Pro)
Bradley Sample (New Addition) (Louisville/Division I)

Edward Kizza
Langston Blackstock
Babacar Diene (New Addition) (Rider/Division I)
Jake Lent-Koop (New Addition) (Messiah/Division III)

Eric Dick (New Addition) (Minnesota United/MLS)
Jacob Randolph (New Addition) (UNCW/Division I)

Riverhounds 2023 Rostered Players who became free agents

  • Albert Dikwa (Forward — Reigning USL Championship MVP)- Signed with Rhode Island FC
  • Arturo Ordonez (Defender –  Reigning USL Championship Defender of the Year) – Signed with Louisville City FC
  • Jahmali Waite (Goalkeeper) – Signed with El Paso 
  • Nate Dossantos (Defender) – Signed with Charleston Battery 
  • Luke Biasi (Defender/Midfielder) – Re-Signed with Pittsburgh
  • Marc Ybarra (Midfielder) – Signed with Rhode Island FC 

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 2023 Rostered Players who did not have contract options picked up

  • Burke Fahling (Midfielder)
  • JC  Obregon (Forward)
  • Trevor Zwetsloot (Midfielder)
  • Tony Lopez  (Midfielder)
  • Jonathan Gomes (Goalkeeper)
  • Christian Garner (Goalkeeper)
  • Tola Showunmi  (Forward) – Signed with Louisville City FC 

Pitt Men’s Soccer Roster 2024/Incomings + Goings

Graduate: 1 year of eligibility 
Midfielder Felipe Mercado

Senior: 1 year of eligibility
Midfielder Michael Sullivan
Midfielder Guilherme Fetiosa
Midfielder Luka Kozomara
Midfielder Casper Grening (Kentucky)
Forward Luis Sahmkow
Forward Abdoulaye Toure
Defender Mateo Maillefaud

Junior: 2 years of eligibility
Midfielder Mateo Stoka
Defender Noah Hall
Defender Jackson Gillman
Defender Raphael Cilli
Defender Casper Svendby (Dayton)

Redshirt Sophomore: 3 years of eligibility
Forward Eben McIntyre
Goalkeeper Cabral Carter

Sophomore: 3 years of eligibility
GK Jack Moxom
GK Eli Mumford
GK Kyle Durham
Defender Ameer Abdullah
Forward Zahir Dyke
Forward Albert Thorsen
Forward Massimo Murania
Forward Alex Hauskrecht (Walk-On)
Midfielder Santiago Ferreiraran
Midfielder Logan Oliver (Indiana)

Freshman 4 years of eligibility 
Mason Dancy

Players in:

Sophomore: 3 Years of eligibility
Midfielder Logan Oliver (Indiana)

Freshman: 4 years of eligibility
Mason Dancy

Players Out

Midfielder Joao Souza
Midfielder Nick Blacklock
Defender Fabian Grau
Midfielder Mathys Lefebvre

Graduated/Entered MLS Super Draft
Midfielder Filip Mirkovic (Orlando City SC)


Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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