The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ struggles continue.
A new coach, Dave Brandt, was unable to make an immediate impact, and many of the same problems continue to persist for the Hounds on the field as they were outplayed by one of the top teams in the USL’s Eastern Conference, New York Red Bulls II, losing 1-0 on Saturday at Red Bull Arena.
Here are some takeaways from another result that keeps the Hounds near the bottom of the standings with their fifth loss of the season in nine league games
CAN’T CONVERT ON FEW QUALITY CHANCES
While the Hounds created a few quality chances, which sometimes on the road if you capitalize on them, can be good enough to win or take home a point.
At the start of the second half, Corey Hertzog had a golden chance, by NYRBII
Goalkeeper Ryan Meara pushed away his breakaway shot, then denied the rebound opportunity.
Jordan Murrell also provided a nice service past the far post to an unmarked Drew Russell, but Russell’s header went wide right.
Other than some decent box-to-box possessions and few other advances into the box, that was about it.
The midfield of Steven Okai, Kevin Kerr, Mike Green and Lebo Moloto were mostly tentative as they were outplayed by the Red Bulls, who played with more creativity and were constantly in attack and countering effectively.
WHAT EXACTLY CHANGED TACTICALLY?
At one point during the telecast, the NY Red Bulls II broadcasters were unsure of what formation the Hounds were lined up in. I pretty much made the same observation.
My my vantage point, it looked like DuWayne Ewart spent most of the time playing in a high center forward spot, while Hertzog dropped back more into the Midfield. It seemed as if Moloto and Kerr were free lancing a bit more, and Okai played higher than usual too.
Brandt wants to have a team that will attack with bringing numbers forward in the attack,and they did this on Saturday in the first half. However, they got caught a number of times on the short end of dangerous Red Bulls counter attacks. It looked like they adjusted accordingly as the game went on, especially for the first 20 minutes of the second half, they did a good job minimizing the Red Bulls attack and creating a few of the quality chances as noted above.
But again, as has been the case in many games this season, the Hounds were not the better team in the latter part of the game when they needed to be pushing for an equalizer, even with some fresh subs like Zak Boggs, James Bissue, Isaiah Schafer and Conor Branson.
It was also another game which they didn’t generate a single corner kick.
Maybe you can point to match fitness or inability to create chances in the final third which has plagued the team all season — but if this continues a poor start will turn into a long, frustrating season.
VARGAS HOLDS HIS OWN AGAIN
There is probably little question about who the Hounds number one keeper is after nine games.
Mauricio Vargas held his own Saturday night, with a mostly solid performance in facing a lot of shots and constant pressure that included nine corner kicks.
Despite giving up a goal on a play that he might have come a little too far out, Vargas otherwise continues to show why the Hounds will have to let him have the majority of playing time in goal. He had command of the box and made numerous quality saves.