While the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (5-6-4, 19 points) remained idle for the second straight weekend in anticipation and preparation for its July 4 encounter with Charlotte, most of the rest of the competition in the USL Eastern Conference were in action.
If the Hounds are going to keep up in the race to get above the playoff line, and earn a postseason spot, each and every game now will take on greater implications.
As Hounds captain Kevin Kerr noted after practice the other day, things in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings are extremely tight.
Of note from the weekend action, the Hounds next opponents, the Independence continue their strong run of play, winning its third straight game, with an impressive 2-1 win over Rochester.
David Estrada’s first-half brace was the difference in a game filled with weather delays. Rochester’s Wal Fall converted a second-half penalty to put the visiting side within reach, but the Independence were able to hang on the rest of the way. With the win, Charlotte improves to 6-3-4 (22 points) overall and 3-1-2 at home.
The Independence extended their unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1). Rochester, who the Hounds have yet to play this season, drops to 5-3-5 (20 points) overall and 1-2-3 on the road.
Who knows, maybe having to endure some weather delays and playing longer and later on Saturday will give the Hounds an advantage against the Independence on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
With the win, Charlotte jumps into fifth place in an absolute log-jam of teams in the conference competing for the top eight spots above the playoff line.
The Hounds may be sitting in 11th place, but a win against Charlotte on Tuesday could catapult them right back into the top five as they could jump ahead of five teams that sit between 20-21 points.
And sitting right above Charlotte, Tampa Bay (24 points), who the Hounds beat 2-0, on June 22, continue to falter, losing to first-place Charleston 2-0, and are within striking distance of the many teams lurking below.
For the Hounds, it has to be a confidence booster to know that they have held their own against all of teams in the top eight in the conference, netting wins at first place Charleston, besting Tampa Bay and Ottawa, earning draws against NY Red Bulls II and Charlotte.
Here’s the Hounds slate for July, as they will want get every point they can at home (currently 3-4-1), as they will have to go on the road the following three weekends.
TUES JULY 4 HOME Charlotte Independence
SAT JULY 8 AWAY Orlando City B
SAT JULY 15 AWAY Bethlehem Steel FC
SAT JULY 22 AWAY Rochester Rhinos
WED JULY 26 HOME Charleston Battery