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Defensive lapse in stoppage time haunts Riverhounds in 1-0 loss to Monterey Bay FC

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

Another day, another zero for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ offense.

The Riverhounds (3-9-6) played to a scoreless draw for 90 minutes against Monterey Bay F.C. at Highmark Stadium on Saturday, pushing their ongoing scoring drought well north of 500 minutes: Pittsburgh’s last goal came on June 1.

And with this result, the Hounds extended another dubious streak — they’re now without a win in their last 10 league matches, and 11 if you count US Open Cup loss in May.

“It’s been a long time without a goal. I don’t think there’s any skirting around that. I think at times it’s decision making, at times it’s execution, at times it’s just being able to steady yourself in those moments in the final third,” midfielder Robbie Mertz said after the game. “Tonight we had a few misses, but then we also had a few that we took well, and they’re making blocks or their keeper is making saves at the right time. It’s tough.”

Despite near defensive perfection, they couldn’t salvage a point from the evening.

The Hounds shut down Monterey Bay’s offense for the vast majority of the game, not allowing so much as a single shot on net until the very end of the game.

In the end, a defensive breakdown in the first minute of stoppage time turned into the game-winner from forward Ousseni Bouda.

Even with captain Danny Griffin sidelined due to a right leg injury, Pittsburgh dictated the pace of play in the first half, logging seven shot attempts (three on goal) and six corner kicks. They also took a slight edge in time of possession and forced Monterey into more fouls. The scoreless streak dragged on regardless.

Lack of Finish

Visiting goalkeeper Carlos Herrera did more than his fair share to keep the Hounds off the board, leaping into traffic repeatedly to quash corner kick tries. Forward Edward Kizza and midfielder Bradley Sample combined for a pair of prime chances, but neither managed to end the drought with a finishing move.

Pittsburgh head coach Bob Lilley zeroed in on his team’s inability to finish during his postgame press conference.

I think we’re wasting a lot of set pieces. They’re not in dangerous areas or they’re too close to the goalkeeper, they’re floated,” Lilley said. “I mean, it’s great to get the shots, but in a few situations we hit shots that were far out or not a good angle. I’m glad we were looking to shoot, but if you can’t get the appropriate power then we’ve gotta try to get something better.”

Monterey Bay, for their part, didn’t get off a single attempt during their brief forays into the Riverhounds’ end. Their first shot came in the 52nd minute when the Hounds narrowly avoided disaster: with goalkeeper Eric Dick playing up, a long kick bounced just over the wide-open net.

Strong Defense? Not So Fast…

Lilley said that he was hesitant to praise Pittsburgh’s defense: he pointed out Monterey’s recent offensive struggles as one reason, also noting the Hounds get away with several defensive miscues… both in this game and in recent weeks.

“Maybe because we’ve gotten a shutout here and there and gotten a 0-0 draw against North Carolina and Charleston, the perception is that we’re defending okay because we’re in the top half of goals against,” Lilley said. “The reality is we haven’t been great defensively either: that’s why our attackers and midfielders have to do a lot of work defensively as well.”

Riverhounds’ forward Babacar Diene broke down the right sideline at 75′, but he couldn’t get a shot off before a Monterey defender caught up and slammed the scoring window shut.

Pittsburgh put together two more opportunities in the final fifteen minutes, but it was Bouda and Monterey Bay who emerged victorious after the stoppage time breakdown.

Lilley repeatedly focused on how his team ran out of steam in the second half, unable to build on their hot start.

“In the first half, I felt like we were controlling the majority of what was going on and playing on our terms,” Lilley said. “Second half, the game became a coin flip. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten the right side of the coin in a while.”

What’s next?

The Hounds continue their July homestead by hosting another Western Conference club, Oakland Roots SC, at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Oakland (8-8-2) hosted Louisville City FC later tonight.

Lineups:

Riverhounds SC lineup (4-4-2) — Eric Dick; Luke Biasi, Illal Osumanu, Sean Suber, Langston Blackstock (Aidan O’Toole 87’); Junior Etou, Jackson Walti, Bradley Sample, Robbie Mertz (Kenardo Forbes 65’); Edward Kizza (Enoch Mushagalusa 87’), Emmanuel Johnson (Emmanuel Johnson 65’)
Monterey Bay FC (4-2-3-1) — Carlos Herrera; Walmer Martinez (Carlos Guzman 46’), Alex Lara, Kai Greene, Morey Doner; Pierce Gallaway (Mobi Fehr 68’), Rafael Baca; Jesus Enriquez, Adrian Rebollar (Jerry Ayon 68’), Alex Dixon; Ousseni Bouda
Scoring summary
MB — Ousseni Bouda 90+1’
Discipline summary
MB — Adrian Rebollar 38’ (caution – reckless foul)

(Look for Post Match Reaction to follow from Highmark Stadium) 

Glory on the Grass

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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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