Pittsburgh Riverhounds (3-13-4, 13 points) vs F.C. Montreal (2-18-1, 7 points)
KEY STORYLINES / WHAT’S AT STAKE
What’s at stake is that the two teams that have been at the bottom of the USL’s Eastern Conference standings are trying to avoid the notorious distinction of finishing in dead last.
The Riverhounds make the 11-hour bus trip North without a number of key contributors.
Lebo Moloto and Mike Green will be sitting out due to suspensions as a result of bookings from Friday’s loss at home vs Louisville. Green was given a straight red card after knocking down Chandler Hoffman in the box and Moloto has accumulated five yellow cards — which means he has to sit out the game.
Team captain Kevin Kerr won’t make the trip either as he’s continues to have work visa issues as does one of the newest signees – Melvin Snoh. A trio of other Hounds are doubtful due to injuries which include Drew Russell (quad), Canadian Jordan Murrell (head) and Sergio Campbell (shoulder).
This could be one of those games where the Hounds might be have to look on the side of the road in their long bus trip for potential help or inspiration…
In all seriousness, team sources have said that they may be trying to work out getting clearances for a few members of MLS Affiliate partner Columbus Crew to play on loan for this game.
Some of those formal announcements may come on game day afternoon.
Montreal Impact’s USL squad in its second year, have taken a bigger step backwards in terms of producing a team that has netted results.
Last year, after a rough start, FC Montreal at least showed some semblance of life, and won some games. This year, after 21 games, they’ve suffered 18 defeats including the last seven games.
In the previous match between the two teams earlier in June, the Riverhounds gave new coach Dave Brandt his first win of the season. Kerr and Corey Hertzog each scored first half goals and the Hounds held on for the 2-1 win at Highmark Stadium.
TACTICS & STRATEGIES
With so many guys out — do we know who will be playing for Dave Brandt’s squad?
Hertzog picked up another goal on Friday, his team leading seventh of the season. It’s likely he’ll be featured in the attack along with Alejandro Aguilar, and maybe we’ll see the first start for Alex Harlley in the midfield. Canadian 18-year old Duwayne Ewart showed some flashes of being a dangerous presence against Louisville in the late stages and it might be good to give him a chance to get a start — and see what Aguilar can do coming off the bench as it seems like he’s had to be subbed in the 60th minute in each of his three Hounds appearances.
In a game with a lot of line-up uncertainty, Brandt should be able to rely on the veteran presence and stability of central midfield tandem of Danny Earls and Stephen Okai. Prior to this season, Earls was the Hounds team captain in 2014 and 2015, so his leadership on the field with this motley crew heading to Montreal will be a bonus.
The back line could feature Willie Hunt, Ryan Adeleye in the center back spots along with Marshall Hollingsworth — but it’s anybody’s guess who might see time at outside back.
Veteran Zak Boggs has started at forward, midfield and was thrown into duty in the defense the past two games — so he may be back there again on Wednesday.
The outside back spot will be important in this game — as the last time the two teams played, Montreal conceded a lot of space on the flanks to Pittsburgh — and they were able to get more service opportunities into the box than any other game this season. Brandt will have push for Hollingsworth and whoever he puts in the outside spots to do again.
Brandt has also used Nick Thompson and Jack Thompson in roles off the bench the past few games — and he’s started Jack a few times so he may do that as well.
If there’s one thing that Montreal possesses — and that’s a lot of raw skill and speed. They are a roster full of homegrown players from the Montreal and the greater Quebec Province — and they’ve struggle to score goals (league worst 16) and they’re
Either way, this should be a tough challenge for the Hounds. A motivated team desperate for a win like FC Montreal, regardless of place in standings, is always a dangerous opponent.
Yes it’s a long bus trip — but they’ll have to put forth a solid effort and execute a solid performance or they’ll be coming back from Montreal without any points.