FC CINCINNATI 1 PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS 0
New season. Same Results.
After four games and more than 360 minutes of play against FC Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds still can’t put a goal in the back of the net against the upstart new United Soccer League franchise.
Hounds, playing a man down for the final 48 minutes, fell to FC Cincinnati 1-0 on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
In an evenly played first half, neither team was able to break through for the go-ahead goal.
The Riverhounds best chance may have come in the 14th minute when FCC defender played the ball back to goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt. The 2016 USL Goalkeeper of the Year inexplicably picked up the ball just outside of the goal box, providing the Hounds with the rare indirect free kick opportunity from very close range.
Both Hounds forwards, Kevin Kerr and Corey Hertzog lined up on the ball, and Kerr’s tap back to Hertzog resulted in a shot deflected away by the FCC wall.
“We gave away a good opportunity to score on the indirect,” said Dave Brandt, Riverhounds Head Coach.
“Corey was too far away from the ball. And to be totally honest we don’t practice indirect free kicks from the six. And maybe that’s on me. It’s going to happen once every year and half or so. “
The Hounds held their ground with a solid defensive shape and created a few effective counter-attack opportunities that created four corner kicks and six shots in the first half.
“To be honest, Pittsburgh had the better of the play in the first half,” said Alan Koch, who earned his first victory as the club’s manager.
However, the match turned late in the first half, when center back Gale Agbossoumonde came out to challenge a streaking Andrew Weideman on the right side in space about 50 yards from goal, to pick up his second caution of the first half.
As a result, the veteran defender and late preseason addition to the roster was sent off, leaving the Hounds to play down a man for the rest of the match.
“We were frustrated. I’m frustrated,” added Brandt.“When a foul automatically comes a second yellow just like that. It’s a foul, but to me, it’s not a second yellow. “
FCC finally capitalized early in the second half, as Weidemen’s cross found Djiby Fall near the far post. Fall craftily headed the ball downward that bounced toward the right side, evading Hounds goalkeeper Trey Mitchell.
“If it’s getting over Jamal’s head, then that means its a hell of a ball,” said Mitchell on the ball into the box that found Fall’s head.
“Jamal has shown he’s doing really well. It was good finish in the top corner. Sometimes you’re going to give up a goal like that. It was a good ball. “
Mitchell kept the Riverhounds in the match making three saves to keep the score within a goal. Without an extra attacker, Pittsburgh were unable to sustain a steady flow of scoring opportunities.
“For us to bounce back, and keep on fighting throughout the match — showed our fighting spirit,” added Mitchell.
“We’ll go back and look at the tape, and see what we can do to get better, but I like the way we battled today.”
It won’t get easier for the Hounds, as they next have to travel on the road to take on Charleston, who have started off 2-0 with wins over FC Cincinnati and tonight against Charlotte Independence, 2-0, then they will return home to take on St. Louis FC team on April 12 that features a former Riverhounds player and league MVP Jose Angulo.
WHAT WE LEARNED
AGBOSSOUMONDE’s FOULS PUT HOUNDS IN HOLE
Overall, the Pittsburgh’s defending appeared to be a bit more organized than in week one when they allowed three goals against the NY Red Bulls II.
Unfortunately, this time around, some costly fouls changed the complexion of the match.
Earlier on in the first half, Agbossoumonde took a hard foul on a ball in the air that knocked FCC defender Austin Berry out of the match to pick up his first caution. This yellow card appeared to be the result of the hard contact.
Already in the book with a yellow card, Agbossoumonde then made a poor decision to make contact with Weideman to disrupt his run instead of simply delaying the FCC attacker. It was especially poor because it happened so far away from goal — about 50 yards out, and that’s not the time or place to take chances. I understand Brandt’s point after the game that it was a subjective call — but it appears that the referee’s vantage point, Agbossoumonde caught Weideman from behind.
Two weeks in a row, the Hounds have been let down by their center midfield play. Jamal Jack stayed in a center back, and held his own, and veteran Rich Balchan slide into the other center back slot, while Jack Thompson, who had been at attacking midfield role, dropped into Balchan’s spot at outside back.
The Hounds didn’t have much depth, as Ryan Adeleye was out with a hamstring injury, and Brandt didn’t seem to be fazed by Agbossoumounde’s overall play.
“It’s difficult, with Gale. With him coming in and joining us late (in the preseason), I didn’t anticipate him playing as much as he has,” said Brandt.“We had a week of changes, with injuries and things, and I was pleased with his effort. Looked good for most of the half. It’s unfortunate, he took the wrong angle and got booked.”
YOUNG MIDFIELDERS TAKE CENTER STAGE
The Hounds went with a very young combination at center midfield starting Ben Swanson and Victor Souto. Both players did well to provide the Hounds with opportunities to keep the ball in the defensive and middle thirds of the field — finding ways to keep the ball alive and help spark a number of counter attacking opportunities.
“I thought we played well until the red card. We were doing much of what we wanted to do. They were giving us some trouble in some areas, but we have a group of younger, talented players — who complement the older guys and did well — especially for the first 40 minutes,” said Brandt.
“I told Ben yesterday, this will be a big game for us to show that we could play against experienced players that Cincinnati has and I thought we been playing together throughout the preseason and thought we had good chemistry today,” said Souto.
“They’re two young guys, but don’t play like it. Ben and Victor both outstanding technical players, really good on the ball,” said Brandt.
STEEL ARMY HANDLES FCC FAN INVASION
“They’re professionals,” said Mitchell of the Steel Army.“They may not as big as they would like to be. But everyone that shows up was going at it the whole match. They won’t let up. I didn’t hear much of from Cincinnati’s fans except some Twitter chants.”
“It really shows that the game of soccer has really grown so much,” said Koch, who coached with Vancouver Whitecaps a season ago.“I can’t tell you how great it is to have such incredible support from the Cincinnati fans. I can’t wait to get back and see what’s it’s going to be like for our home opener.”
“I thought the Steel Army vetted them out. They were awesome,” said Mitchell.“I think we go back to Cincinnati, it would be great if they can return the favor and show up there too.”
Riverhounds – Trey Mitchell – Taylor Washington, Gale Agbossoumonde (red card 42’), Jamal Jack, Rich Balchan – Victor Souto, Ben Swanson (Mike Green 63’), Jack Thompson, Marshall Hollingsworth (Kay Banjo 63’) – Kevin Kerr, Corey Hertzog
Subs not used: Keasel Broome, Nick Thompson, Ritchie Duffie, Abuchi Obinwa, Ben Fitzpatrick
FC Cincinnati – Mitch Hildebrandt – Matt Bahner, Austin Berry (Paul Nicholson 36’), Harrison Delbridge, Tyler Polak – Aodhan Quinn, Aaron Walker – Andrew Wiedeman (Corben Bone 89’), Kadeem Dacres (Victor Manaray 79’), Djiby Fall, Jimmy McLaughlin
Subs not used: Dallas Jaye, Pat McMahon, Justin Hoyte, Omar Cummings
CIN – Djiby Fall 55’ (Andrew Wiedeman)
PGH – Gale Agbossoumonde 32’ (caution)
PGH – Gale Agbossoumonde 42’ (caution + red)
CIN – Kadeem Dacres 45’+ (caution)
PGH – Taylor Washington 85’ (caution)
CIN – Victor Mansaray 85’ (caution)
The Riverhounds will travel to Charleston on Saturday, April 8, seeking their first win of the season in a meeting with long-time foes, Charleston Battery. Kickoff is a 7 p.m.
This will be the first game in the “Old Guard Series” of matches this season between the five longest tenured USL franchises that include the Riverhounds (1999), Charleston (1992), Richmond (1992), Rochester (1994) and Harrisburg (2004).