Much like the Riverhounds, I’ve been away from the action in the past week.
Despite my travels, I was able to file this story for DK Pittsburgh Sports on Friday, as I had a chance to catch up with Hounds captain Kevin Kerr – to file this feature.
The Riverhounds (4-4-3, 15 points) remain in third place in the USL’s Eastern Conference, tied with FC Cincinnati and Louisville City FC — two teams that have beaten them by 1-0 scores at Highmark Stadium earlier this year.
The Hounds return to action on Saturday night (at 7 p.m.) at Highmark Stadium to take on Orlando City B.
For regular game updates, follow DK Pittsburgh Sports live game file and Lance Lysowski, who will be covering the game.
@PGHSOCCERSCRIBE VISITS ORLANDO CITY’S NEW STADIUM
Speaking of Orlando City, while away on family vacation this week, already in Central Florida, I took the opportunity to attend Orlando City SC-DC United MLS match on Wednesday night in the brand spanking new Orlando City Stadium in Downtown Orlando.
I sat in a sea of purple in front of a splendid grass pitch to watch the home team win 2-0 in a driving rainstorm which pushed the start time back about 45 minutes.
There’s been a lot of talk about the new stadium, and I wanted to get a first-hand look at the facility. It’s located near Amway (formerly “O”rena) and Camping World Stadium (formerly Citrus Bowl) just on the edge of the downtown area.
Getting tested despite a driving rainstorm, maybe the most impressive thing about the facility was that just about every single seat in the facility was covered, and very few fans got wet despite a driving rainstorm that lasted for the entire first half, then early into the second half.
While I was hoping a few months ago, that I would be able to see former Hounds midfielder Rob Vincent in action for DCU, and Kaka for City, both remain on the sidelines. The Brazilian and former AC Milan midfielder was out due to lingering calf issue, while Robbie continues to be out due to some blood clot complications after knee surgery.
Instead, what I saw was a DC United side that is clearly shorthanded (missing a pair of strikers in suspended Jose Guillermo Ortiz and injured Patrick Mullins (knee) — but had a few chances to take the lead, and in the second half, after surrendering a goal on a Will Johnson corner kick headed in by a great effort from Clye Larin.
Then, DC United had a prime chance to equalize, but were denied by a double save on a breakaway chance (and the Riverhounds think they’re snake-bit of late!?), by both defender Jonathan Spector and goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Bendik somehow recovered in time to prevent Sebastien Le Toux from heading the rebound into a completely empty net.
One constant through the night — the very loud and impressive “Wall” of OC Lions Den supporters on the one end of the Stadium. There are no seats in the Supporters Section, just “safe standing” — a standing-room only section with barriers to prevent any dangerous situations that might arise from having a setup like this. There’s also a designated area for use of smoke canisters, also a first in MLS. (I bet the Steel Army would love something like that)
There had to be at least 25-30 flags flying, and chants and songs were completely in unison — and everyone dressed in purple.
As the game neared the end of the match, with OC hanging onto a 1-0 lead, Jamaican Giles Barnes added a late strike from distance that slipped right through Bill Hamid‘s hands.
What followed after Barnes goal celebration were some not-so-friendly, and very loud jabbing chants from the supporters group targeted at a dejected Hamid — sounding something like “You Messed Up.”
The supporters group then got to use the smoke canister — letting off a huge cloud of purple smoke into the very soggy Orlando night.
Bottom line here — if you get a chance to catch an MLS game at Orlando City Stadium — it’s a great soccer experience. They’ve come a long way from playing before a mostly empty Citrus Bowl.