A Hounds draw. Something Good? Something Bad? Bit of Both?

Pittsburgh finished level with Swope Park. Is that a positive result or a negative one? Or, is it neither?

A point is a point and that’s the point.  Right?

Well… maybe.  The Hounds battled to a 2-2 draw against Swope Park/Sporting KC Saturday night and the results seem to have fans struggling to figure out if it was a good performance, a bad performance, or a bit of both.  Let’s break it down.

The good: We scored… twice!

And one of the goals was off a set piece, something the Hounds notoriously struggled with last season.

Kudos to Tobi Adewole for literally throwing his body into the ball to deflect it in (Tobi 1 – Hugh Roberts 0).  That kind of effort, to do anything and everything to connect, was something that Hounds lacked in their loss last week to Tampa, so it’s good to see him rewarded for it.

Congratulations are also in order for rookie Anthony Velarde for getting his first goal as a professional.  With the Hounds down 2-1 in the waning minutes of the game, it’s a positive to see him step up and bury his shot.  After missing from 15 yards out last week, it took some mental strength to not be rattled when the game was on the line.  He didn’t, and that’s a positive sign for things to come this season.

The bad: We got scored on… twice!

Both goals coming in the last 10 minutes of the game.  That stings.

The Hounds gave up a few chances throughout the game, but none of them really felt all that dangerous.  Hounds keeper, Big Ben (Lungaard) did a great job commanding his box and keeping balls out of the back of the net.  Which is why it’s so frustrating to see the team let Swope/Sporting get not one, but two goals after the team had battled so hard to be up 1-0.

The Hounds have now given up 4 goals in the past 2 games.  At one point last season, we averaged less than 1 goal against per game.  Going to need some clean sheets to get that average back.

The good: We played a lot better than last week

Last week there was a lot of talk of the Hounds playing a complicated, morphing formation.  There was clearly something missing in it against Tampa (maybe effort) that made it work so much better this week.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely better.

When the Hounds didn’t have the ball, they dropped into a 5-3-1-1 formation, allowing Swope/Sporting to pass the ball around between their defenders without any threat of scoring.  But as soon as they’d try to make a play into their midfield, the Hounds would pounce, shifting into a 3-4-3, focusing on winning the ball back and pushing numbers forward into the attack.  The result was a number of solid opportunities that we simply didn’t see last week.

Speaking of…

The bad: Too many missed opportunities

Oh, Neco Brett.  If it weren’t for a trip and holding the ball slightly too long the Hounds could have been up 3-0 at one point, and you would have 2 goals and be on the USL Team of the Week.

But, it’s not all on you.  Kenny Forbes also had a sitter that he put wide and Greenspan had a header that he pushed wide as well.


A bit of both: We’re generating opportunities

Granted it’s a small sample size (uh, one game), but the Hounds generated a substantial number of quality chances.  It’s clear that a big focus in the offseason was on set pieces, as it seems to be a top priority to find Joe Greenspan’s head every time the Hounds step up to take a corner.

And we had a lot of corners (10 to Swope/Sporting’s 3).

So overall, the game was a bit of a mixed bag.  Sure the Hounds didn’t get the win, but it’s also the second game of the season, against a team that had a number of MLS players playing for them, and there were plenty of signs of life and exciting things to come.

So at this point, we’ll take the point.  And I guess that’s the point.


Mike Sparks

In addition to watching, coaching, and occasionally playing soccer, Mike also enjoys talking all things soccer over at the Mon Goals podcast. Go give the show a listen and let him know what you think