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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

FINAL: Riverhounds SC 3, Phoenix Rising FC 1

Photo courtesy Phoenix Rising FC

FINAL:  Riverhounds SC 3, Phoenix Rising FC 1

Match Stats: USL Championship Match Center

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC finally found their scoring rhythm in earning their first win of the season, by defeating the defending USL Champions, Phoenix Rising FC, 3-1, at Rising Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona late Saturday.

The Hounds saw goals from three forwards, with Kazaiah Sterling giving the Hounds the lead in the first half, then Edward Kizza and Babacar Diene answered with second half tallies which pushed Pittsburgh past Phoenix, despite being on the short end of possession (60/40) and shots (19-10) totals.  Kizza and Junior Etou also added assists, as the Hounds tripled their goal output from the first five matches.

Phoenix was on the front foot for large stretches, but the Hounds were more efficient — for the first time all season where it mattered most — in the final third.  Pittsburgh made the most of 10 shot attempts, with five on frame and three in the back of the net, while Phoenix landed four shots on frame.

Though they were under heavy pressure for the first 25 minutes, the Hounds took the lead when Kazaiah Sterling scored his first goal with Pittsburgh in the 26th minute, after receiving a clever backheel pass from Kizza.

Only moments after taking their first lead of the season, the Hounds gave one back.  Phoenix’s Rémi Cabral hit a left footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom left corner, following an assist from Pape Boye.

Early in the second half, with the teams deadlocked at 1-1, Sterling nearly got the lead back, after Pape Boye was called for a handball in the box while extending his elbow to make himself bigger to deny Junior Etou’s shot attempt.  This resulted in a penalty call in favor of Pittsburgh.  However, the former Tottenham Hotspur tried to get cute with his PK attempt, with a long run-up, then delayed shot which sailed over the right corner.

Pittsburgh continued to press forward into spaces when the opportunities presented — with the next solid chance coming in the 62nd minute, as Kizza put the Hounds in front with a quick reaction to ball played over his way on the far post side, thanks to sharp, low pass across the box from Junior Etou.

The Hounds grew more confident as the match evolved, keeping Phoenix attack in check, while still pushing for a goal that would put the match away.

That goal would come in the 89th minute, when sub Babacar Diene capitalized on another build-up that started on the left side, once again from Etou, who sent a ball into the box that forced an attempted clearance, but Diene was the man on the spot, and converted on a close range chance.

For Pittsburgh (1-3-2, 5 points) it was their first win in Pacific or Mountain time zone since 2021, as they were on a streak of 10 straight Western trip matches without a win.

The Hounds return home next Saturday, when they face the only team in USL Championship, that picked up all three points at home on Saturday, Detroit City FC, in what will be a rematch of the USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff, where the Hounds were eliminated, 1-0, from the 2023 USL Cup Playoff tournament.



Match Updates

Follow along here for the latest from Phoenix…


89′ — GOAL — PITTSBURGH — Babacar Diene

Babacar Diene buries his first goal as a Hound! Nice work from Junior Etou on width to get into box. Hounds go up 3-1 on defending league champs on road.

88′ – Hounds SUBS

Aidan O’Toole replaces Bradley Sample

84′ — PHX Goal waved off — after hard collision — loose ball is put through — but foul called on Rémi Cabral

74′ — Hounds SUBS

  • IN:  Forbes, Blackstock, Diene
  • OUT: Sterling, Mertz, Suber

67′ — SUB – PHX  — Panos Armenakas replaces Federico Varela.


Edward Kizza with his second of the season Junior Etou sends short ball across box — and Kizza with clever quick redirect to give Hounds 2-1 lead.

58′ — Nice build up from Hounds — Kizza with nice ball wide to Sterling.  Looking for goal number two — Sterling moves into box and unleashes low turf burner that forces save.

55′ — Couple chances for PHX —  First Hernandez with golden chance, but misses. THen after Luke Biasi foul on Gallardo — PHX short free kick from right edge of box ends up with Gallardo with ball at near post but one-time effort goes over bar as Hounds scramble to cover post line.

48′ — Good start to half for Hounds ends up earning a PENALTY KICK thanks to a handball from Moye on a Junior Etou shot deflection.

However — Hounds miss penalty from Kazaiah Sterling — who does the long run up — and tries to get cute with pause and bending shot to top right but it goes over!


Hounds conceding possession (59/41), absorbing pressure from hosts (who have 11-2 shots edge) with one defensive lapse.
But conversion rate is good tonight — scored on their ‘big chance’ created on clever build-up.  

41′ — YELLOW CARD — PHX – Gallardo clips Danny Griffin in midfield.

38′ –  Attempt missed. Dariusz Formella (Phoenix Rising) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Erickson Gallardo with a cross

28′ –  PHOENIX GOAL — 1-1

Attempt missed. Dariusz Formella (Phoenix Rising) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Erickson Gallardo with a crossRémi Cabral left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Pape Boye.


Kazaiah Sterling with his first goal as a Hound.

Hounds with brilliant build-up ending up to Kizza in space on right side of box, but backheels it to center of box for Sterling — who buries it. First lead of season for Hounds!

24′ – Hounds get in transition — build up through middle of field — ends up with Sterling building up steam through middle — finds Kizza breaking run on right — but shot chance goes wide.

20′ — Rising chance again!  Dick extends to push away a Cabral low chance that almost found its way inside left post

17′ — RIsing chance — Torres cross into back post — Mar Boye with the header attempt saved by Eric Dick!

15′ — YELLOW CARD — Cabral is tugged down by Osumani.  Hounds defender goes in the book.

10′ — Both teams feeling each other out.

PHX with two shot attempts — one from distance and another on quick cross.  Neither were dangerous.

Hounds appear to be using Griffin/Sample as double holding mids in more of 4-2-3-1 shape — with Kizza center of attacking MF line with Etou and Mertz. Kazaiah Sterling at top of attack.

10:35 p.m. — 1′ — Kickoff!

10:20 p.m. (ET) — Starting Lineup notes

First start for Sean Suber, who will likely find himself out on the flank. Additionally, Bradley Sample is also getting his first start too — in place of Kenardo Forbes, who needs 70 minutes to become the USL Championship’s all-time minutes leader.

Otherwise, the Hounds lineup looks pretty similar to the last few weeks.

Riverhounds Starting XI


Phoenix Rising Starters


PSN Pre-Match Coverage

Analysis: Struggling Riverhounds failing to convert on ‘big chances’ early in season



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

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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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