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Riverhounds wrap preseason with 1-0 victory at Louisville City

Photo courtesy Louisville City FC

From Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC / Louisville City FC reports 

Babacar Diene scored the only goal nine minutes into the second half, and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds wrapped up their 2024 preseason with a 1-0 win over Louisville City FC this afternoon at Thurman Hutchins Park in Louisville, Ky.

Diene, a first-year pro out of Rider University, netted his second goal of the preseason after Kenardo Forbes slipped a pass to Junior Etou around the left side of the defense. Etou sent a cross toward goal, and Diene met the ball at the near post to redirect it into the net.

“We took some pressure early, but in the second part of the first half, we started to get in behind them and cause some problems. We built up, played pretty well in the second half and looked comfortable in possession,” Riverhounds head coach Bob Lilley said. “We still want to get better with possession and creating chances, but we keep growing, and this is probably the best we defended all preseason. Louisville had chances, but very few clean looks. We blocked shots and defended well in their box.”

While a 1-0 loss marked LouCity’s first defeat of the year, coach Danny Cruz called the 90-minute friendly a “good exercise.” It was one the boys in purple got to play in front of a select group of season ticket members who braved cold and rain at Thurman-Hutchins Park.

“It was a battle, as it always is with Pitt,” Cruz said. “I thought we were really poor in transition on that side of the ball, and we need to finish our chances. We’ve talked about that in the past, but we’ve scored a lot of goals this preseason. We needed some more quality in the final third.

“Then in the second half, they had one chance and they scored, and that’s the USL in a nutshell. So we have to make sure we take our chances and do a better job in transition, because that’s where the goal came from.”

Louisville’s best chances in the first half came midway through the period. Jake Morris forced a save in the 23rd minute, and shortly afterward, Elijah Wynder headed a shot on goal from a corner kick.

The Hounds didn’t sit back after going in front, but chances were limited between the two perennial Eastern Conference contenders. Louisville had a chance to tie the game late, but Adrien Perez‘s shot in the 82nd minute was saved off the post, securing the Hounds’ third shutout in five preseason matches.

“There were a few people there (at the training field), some of their season ticket holders, so there was a little bit of an atmosphere, and there was rain and a wet surface, so it was a good test,” Lilley said. “They have a deep team and were our strongest opposition to this point. We defended a little more than we’d like, but we weren’t really pinned back until the late stages, and we had enough teeth on the counter to keep them honest.”

The Hounds finish preseason with a 3-1-1 record, including two wins from two road matches and a 2-0-1 mark against USL opposition.

That momentum sends them forward into the start of the USL Championship season next weekend, when they go on the road to face New Mexico United at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Today was improvement, but we don’t want to take too much from it,” Lilley said.

“At the end of last season, New Mexico was tough on us, and we know they’ll be good, especially at home. We have to have a good week of training, keep improving and clean up areas that maybe got exposed a little this week.”

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 Men’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).

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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