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Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer: Steel City FC-Cleveland NPSL Great Lakes Conference rivalry renews with battle of unbeatens

Photo courtesy Jared Todhunter

Heading into the weekend, there’s no shortage of soccer action in the Pittsburgh area!

This has traditionally been a slow period for the soccer news cycle, but we are fortunate now to have four teams in the heart of their seasons in four separate leagues, when you include Riverhounds SC, Steel City FC’s men’s and women’s teams and Beadling SC’s women’s team in WPSL.  Look for the full schedule below as all four clubs will be in action on Saturday.

Also — if you haven’t had a chance — please check out Rachael Kriger’s feature on Pitt women’s soccer’s all-time goal scoring leader, Amanda West, who is off to a very good start as a professional in the NWSL with Houston Dash.

A Special Feeling: Amanda West on dream start to rookie season with the Houston Dash

The Riverhounds will face a daunting challenge of facing its Old Guard Shield rivals, Charleston Battery on Saturday on the road in the Holy City (7:30 p.m. — we’ll have the match preview on Saturday morning!),  For more on Bob Lilley’s club’s recent struggles, check out the latest Riverhounds Notebook.

Riverhounds Notebook: Flumping Hounds sit in very unfamiliar spot below playoff line

Steel City FC will be hosting a rare women’s and men’s doubleheader.

The men are facing a rival of their own, taking on Cleveland Ambassadors, as they head into their sixth match of the Great Lakes Conference season unbeaten (4-0-1).

It will be a battle for first place and a rematch between the teams that met in the NPSL’s Great Lakes Final a year ago at Founders Field, when Steel City captured its first-ever Conference Title.

On the attack from the start, Steel City FC top Cleveland SC, 2-0, to capture Great Lakes Conference title

Steel City are coming off an impressive weekend where they picked up back-to-back victories away from home, beating both Akron City FC, 2-1, and Niagara 1812, 5-1.

After Cleveland was the dominant club in the Great Lakes Conference in the past half decade, Steel City finally got over the hump, beating their rivals from Northeast Ohio each time last season.  It looks though that Cleveland will once again provide a very tough match-up, as they enter the contest unbeaten (3-0-0), raising the stakes between the two sides as the winner will have a leg up in the race to finish first in the regular season.

Since the start of the 2021 season, Steel City/Hotspurs and Cleveland SC have faced each other ten times, with Cleveland holding the 5-4-1 edge, but that includes a Cleveland three-match sweep in 2021.  Since that time, the Pittsburgh side has won four of the last seven matches played since 2022.

“They’re familiar with us, and we know them. We know what we’re going to get with them, but it’s always a good match. They have some vets as we do too,” Kolarac said.

Meanwhile, Steel City’s women’s side (1-0-1, 4 points in the 18 team Group A UWS table) will be facing FC Buffalo club that beat them twice last season.

PITTSBURGH SOCCER SCHEDULE (6/8/2024)

Saturday, June 8, 2024

2 p.m.  — Steel City FC (Women – UWS) vs FC Buffalo (Founders Field)

3 p.m.  — Beadling SC (Women – WPSL) at Greater Toledo FC (Toledo, OH)

7 p.m. — Steel City FC (Men – NPSL) vs Cleveland SC (Founders Field)

7:30 p.m. — Riverhounds SC (USLC) vs Charleston Battery (Charleston, SC)

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).

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