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Preview: Floundering Riverhounds host front-running, high-scoring Louisville City FC in midweek clash

In a challenging season through 14 matches, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will face yet another daunting task on Wednesday night, when they host first place Louisville City FC, at Highmark Stadium (7 p.m. kickoff).

Ironically, it’s the first league midweek match of the season — as their only other middle of the week contest this season was U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 loss to FC Tulsa.

The Hounds (3w-6l-5d) return home after a road loss at Hartford on Saturday, looking to right the ship a bit against Louisville City FC (10w-2l-2d), one of their longest running rivals and their primary nemesis in the Eastern Conference during the past decade.

Pittsburgh vs Louisville: Key Storylines

  • The clubs met in March, with Louisville coming away with a convincing 3-1 win, which handed Pittsburgh its third straight loss to start the season.   Since that time, Pittsburgh did right the ship a bit, reeling off a seven match unbeaten streak, that included three straight wins.  However, the Hounds are now without a win in their last six league matches as they’ve continued to struggle to score goals this season, stuck on 11.
  • The visitors though, this time around will be looking for a bounce back result, coming off a 3-2 loss on Saturday at the hands of another perennial Eastern Conference contender — Tampa Bay.
  • Both clubs will be dipping deeper into their rosters, as each are playing through a stretch of three matches in eight days, so squad rotation will test each squad’s depth.
  • This match will also feature the return of Arturo Ordonez back to Pittsburgh, where he played his first two professional seasons with the Riverhounds, earning USL Championship Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2023.  Ordonez also played at Pitt, where he helped lead the Panthers to the College Cup.
  • One of the other key storylines heading into this match, the Hounds made a move this week to try to bolster its struggling attack, by adding 24-year old well-traveled forward Enoch Mushagalusa on loan from Hartford.
  • The match will be shown live on CBS Sports Network, making this the Hounds’ first national TV home game in four years. It will be the first with the crowd rocking at Highmark Stadium rocking in even longer, as that 2020 match against Indy Eleven was played in a nearly empty stadium due to that season’s pandemic restrictions.
  • As a heat wave continues through much of the Northeastern U.S. — the teams are expected to have hydration breaks during the match.
  • Another Kenardo Forbes milestone is likely to occur Wednesday, as the Hounds’ veteran is poised to equal the USL Championship record for most career appearances. Forbes’ next regular-season match will be his 277th in the league, matching the total set by former Harrisburg, Charlotte and Tampa Bay midfielder Yann Ekra.

Louisville City FC: Closer Look

Check out our Scouting Report on Louisville City FC ahead of the first match, as Dennis Cruz’s squad has since continued to be one of — if not the – most potent scoring outfits in the entire USL Championship.

Preview: Winless Hounds look to ‘go after it’ as they face revamped rival Louisville City FC in search of goals

Despite the loss, Louisville remains three points clear of Charleston atop the league, and they’re doing so with a +24 goal difference fueled by an attack on record-setting pace with 39 goals in only 14 matches. Wilson Harris leads Louisville with 10 goals on the season, and Ray Serrano sits behind him with five, but what’s most remarkable is the team’s balance, as they have 10 players with multiple goals so far this season.

Ordonez has continued to thrive in the center of a very formidable back line, having another solid season, and scoring his first goal in Purple and Gold against Detroit a few weeks ago.

Here’s How Louisville lined up last time out vs Tampa Bay

Key Match-Ups and Projected Riverhounds Lineup

The Hounds will have their hands full in trying to slow down the Louisville attack.

Traditionally, when these two sides meet, it can be a tight, neither side gives much room type of an affair, but last time out, things opened up rather quickly, as Louisville went on the attack early and were completely dominant with their high press and disrupting the Hounds, forcing an early first half substitution, as Bob Lilley replaced Dani Rovira with Langston Blackstock on the wing. Even when Pittsburgh somehow found a way to level the match, thanks to a nice, transition conversion that ended with Edward Kizza putting in his first goal of season, Louisville continued to bring tons of pressure, and stayed on the front foot.

In the previous match at Louisville, Pittsburgh went with a standard 5-3-2 formation, they’ve used a lot this season, but even in that match, they made adjustments a number of times to deal with the Louisville pressure and try to get back to dictating terms of the match, which they couldn’t do.

That was also the last match which Danny Griffin played out of the back line, and has since moved back into his more comfortable central midfield position.  Since that match, center back Pat Hogan returned to the starting lineup after some nagging injuries in the preseason.

What Lou City did so well in the last match, with their experienced back line that included Ordonez, veterans Sean Totsch and Lou City’s captain, Kyle Adams, is they were well positioned along with Elijah Wynder, in taking away the deeper channels that denied the Hounds pick out to find forwards Edward Kizza and attacking midfielder Robbie Mertz.

Pittsburgh will have to possess the ball better this time around, and with an experienced midfield, they should have a solid game plan in place to execute better this time around.

The goalkeeper rotation has proven to be fluid to say the least as competition remains for starting time in this year’s stable of keepers.  Veteran Eric Dick has started the most matches, but after seven straight starts to open the season, he’s shared duties with Gabe Perrotta (three league starts plus Open Cup) and Jacob Randolph (who made his debut in Hartford on Saturday).

The Hounds went with a pretty standard starting eleven on Saturday at Hartford, but among those field players who didn’t start, who could very well be inserted into the starting lineup, include Luke Biasi didn’t make the trip to Hartford as he was still coming back from hamstring knock, but could be ready to go, along with Kenardo Forbes, Dani Rovira, Bradley Sample and one of the forwards, Babacar Diene or EJ Johnson, who have not started recently could be put into action from the go.

It’s probably unlikely that Mushagalusa would be inserted into the starting XI so quickly after coming to Pittsburgh, but you never know what measures the Hounds may resort to as they’re desperate to be more clinical in the final third, as they are last in the league in goals scored (11) despite being one of the top teams with touches in the box.

John K’s Projected Riverhounds Starting Lineup

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Riverhounds (3-6-5) vs. Louisville City FC (10-2-2)
Date: Wednesday, June 19
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Highmark Stadium
Tickets: Ticketmaster
Odds: Hounds +230 / Draw +240 / Louisville +105 (FanDuel)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtags: #PITvLOU and #HOUNDTAHN

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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