Pittsburgh Riverhounds (0-2-2, 2 pts) vs Charleston Battery (2-1-2, 8 pts)
The Riverhounds are still in search of their first win — and recent history suggests it’s not going to be easy in the Port City.
Captain Kevin Kerr will finally be back in the lineup after a tough week which he was suspended for a straight red card in game against Orlando. Despite the team’s contention that it was a bad call, USL league officials upheld the ruling, and Kerr sat out Wednesday’s 2-2 draw against first place Louisville City.
The Riverhounds, who played very conservatively in the 2-2 draw, and at Louisville City, will be tested by one of the league’s best defensive units.
A year ago the long-time rivals played twice, with Charlston winning at home 3-2 in May, then scoring a late goal for a 1-1 draw at Highmark Stadium in September.
ABOUT THE BATTERY
- The Battery form of late has not been great — earning a 0-0 draw at expansion Bethelhem Steel FC, and a 3-2 defeat against the Charlotte Independence two weeks ago to derail their undefeated start to the season.
- In the Charlotte match, Charleston tried to battle back after going down by three goals in the second half, but goals by Romario Williams and Justin Portillo weren’t enough as the rally fell short
- Williams has recorded three goals in four games for the Battery this season, on loan from the Montreal Impact.
- Zach Prince will be serving the second of his two-game suspension on Saturday .
MATCH UPS & TACTICS
Prior to giving up three early goals against Charlotte, the Battery have been solid defensively, and returned to that form on Sunday at Bethelhem, posting a shut out of the home team.
In two road draws, the Riverhounds have scored four goals, with only one goal at home.
With what is expected to be a full lineup of players at Head Coach Mark Steffens’ disposal, including the return of Kerr and not having used any subs earlier in the week, Hounds will likely not play as conservatively as they did at Louisville.
Considering both teams have mostly been slow starters in games this year might suggest for those two sides to feel things out early. With Kerr and Moloto in the lineup, the Hounds could go with putting Romeo Parkes on the left side of the attack.
Corey Hertzog covered a lot of ground at lone forward spot on Wednesday, so it might be interesting to see if Steffens reduces his minutes in this game.
The Hounds have to continue to improve defensively, and will need a near mistake-free performance in Charleston to come away with three big road points. Another curious question will be, when will Steffens look to give his rookie goalkeeper, Mauricio Vargas a start. Hunter Gilstrap absorbed a lot of pressure in the Louisville game, and maybe it’s a good time to give Vargas a shot.