BREAKING DOWN THE HOUNDS: Back to Florida #TBRvPGH

• WhoRiverhounds (5-7-8) vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (8-5-7)
• When: 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Fla.
• VideoUSL YouTube
• Boxscore: USL Match Center
• Media notesHounds | Rowdies

• Both clubs enter this weekend’s tilt with two different looking unbeaten streaks. The Hounds are unbeaten in their last four — all draws while the Rowdies have picked up two wins in its last three (2-0-1). The Hounds currently sit only one point out of a playoff spot, but have not recorded a win since beating Tampa Bay in June at Highmark Stadium – a stretch of five matches. This is only the third all-time meeting between the two franchises and the first ever in Tampa Bay. Prior to the Rowdies joining the USL this season, the Hounds defeated the Rowdies 1-0 in May 2015 at Highmark Stadium in third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

• The Hounds have no current, active players listed on the injury report — as head coach Dave Brandt will have a lot of options to choose from for Saturday’s line-up. One note, on Wednesday, veteran midfielder Danny Earls, was a healthy scratch and not in the 18 on the line-up card after seeing an increased role and playing in the previous four matches.

• The stretch of four straight draws is the longest in club history since the current era of USL began play in 2011, while a point Saturday would give them their longest overall unbeaten streak since the 2015 season. Six of the Hounds eight draws this season have been on the road, as they continue to find a way to be a tough team to beat when they are away from home, with an overall road record of 2-2-6.

• After a stretch in June when they struggled, have turned things around thanks in large part to a strong run of play from former Northern Ireland international Martin Paterson, who has scored in each of the past three contests. Paterson and Joe Cole were on target last Saturday in a 2-0 victory against the conference-leading Charleston Battery to earn the side its seventh home win in 10 games this season (7-1-2). The Rowdies also have an edge in that they’ve been off since last Saturday, while the Hounds will have a short turnaround after battling Charleston to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.

COREY ROWDIES
Corey Hertzog played for the Rowdies in 2014-15

• Hounds forward Corey Hertzog, who finally broke his scoring slump on Wednesday with a bending shot that hit the inside post and into the goal for his team leading seventh tally of the season, will return to a place where he played for two seasons (2014-15), scoring eight goals in 47 appearances prior to coming to Pittsburgh.

“It’s a great place, there’s always a good four, five thousand fans. The supporters there will be loud. It’s the kind of environment as a player where you love to play. It’ll be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it,” Hertzog said.

• The Hounds attack picked up a much needed two-goal performance on Wednesday, as Romeo Parkes in an attacking midfield role, contributed with assists on both goals. It was the first two-assist game for a Riverhounds player all season. One interesting statistic that illustrates the Hounds scoring struggles this season; they’ve hit the post or crossbar ten times, with Hertzog accounting for five of those.

• It’s anyone’s guess who will start in goal now that the Hounds have both keepers back fairly healthy. Keasel Broome started against Charleston on Wednesday and Trey Mitchell made his first start since mid-June last Saturday after returning from a shoulder injury.

• Saturday’s match will also be the second of three Hounds matches broadcast on television this year, as fans locally can catch the action on Pittsburgh’s CW.

• Bet You Didn’t Know… This isn’t the first time the Hounds will venture to Florida’s west coast, as they last visited Tampa Bay in 2013, defeating the now defunct VSI Tampa Bay FC 2-1, a franchise that only lasted one season in what was then USL PRO. Former Hounds assistant coach Josh Rife, who was  in Pittsburgh on coach Mark Steffens staff in 2015 and early 2016, made 26 appearances and scored two goals as a defender and served as the only captain in VSI Tampa Bay FC’s short history.

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