Thompson to the Rescue in St. Louis
From USL/Pittsburgh Riverhounds Game Report
FENTON, Mo. (April 11, 2015) – An incredible save by Ryan Thompson and a first goal for Vini Dantas rescued a point for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with Saint Louis F.C. at World Wide Technology Soccer Park.
Jamaican national team goalkeeper Thompson instinctively blocked his countryman Jeremie Lynch’s point-blank shot two minutes into the second half with the Hounds trailing to Brandon Barklage’s opener.
Thompson’s save kept Pittsburgh alive when the hosts looked like running away with a win in their first home game since joining the USL this year. A late Hounds rally saw Dantas sweeping a low finish under Saints goalkeeper Mark Pais to grab a share of the points.
“Ryan had a huge game for us,” said Riverhounds head coach Mark Steffens. “He really kept us in thematch after we had stopped connecting with our passes.
“We’re not sure of who we are yet and we’re still trying to figure it out, so this was a really big point for us on the road.”
Steffens had spoken this week about weathering the expected storm from the buoyant St. Louis crowd. It seemed as though the forecasters had miscalculated in the opening stages as the Hounds confidently stroked the ball around in front of the sellout 5,280 attendance.
Debutant Tyler Pasher and opposing full-back Willie Hunt pushed forward and delivered early crosses while Lebo Moloto’s delightful flick teed up Kevin Kerr to shoot over the bar.
Pittsburgh struggled to maintain that early composure. Saints midfield fulcrum Barklage grew increasingly influential and Chicago Fire loanee Patrick Doody threatened with his wicked deliveries.
Thompson faced an onslaught midway through the first half as Lynch firstly glanced a header at goal. Former Charlotte Eagles full-back Richard Dixon forced the 30-year-old goalkeeper into a smart save low at his far post, and Lynch again connected with a Doody cross to hit the target.
Fejiro Okiomah limped out of the action on 38 minutes with a pulled quad muscle. Mike Green replaced him with Hunt moving to partner Anthony Arena in the center of the Hounds defense. The revised back line was breached a minute before the interval after another Doody set play.
Barklage volleyed into an empty net from three yards out after Thompson could not clear an inswinging corner under pressure from Lynch at the near post.
Bryan Gaul missed another chance from a Doody cross before Steffens brought on Stephen Okai to shore up his midfield. Moloto forced a rare save out of Pais as the Riverhounds sparked back to life on 71 minutes. The equalizer came two minutes later when Moloto burst into the penalty area with Kerr and Okai in support.
Okai’s shot was blocked on the 6-yard line and Dantas pounced to seal a hard fought point.
The result leaves the Riverhounds and Saint Louis tied on four points in the USL’s Eastern Conference with 1-1-1 records.
Louisville City (1-0-1, 4 points) is the next opponent for the Hounds when they return to action at Highmark Stadium next Sunday, April 19. Kickoff is at 3 p.m.
Be sure to check back on Pittsburgh Soccer Report on Monday, as John Krysinsky will add his Week 3 recap, “What We Learned” and more — wrapping up and providing more objective insight on this weekend’s Riverhounds action.