The Nightingale: Charleston

The Nightingale: Charleston

By Richard Nightingale

One swallow does not make a summer…..

‘Dum Spiro Spero‘ or ‘While I breathe I hope‘ is the state motto of South Carolina and on the evening of Saturday April 8th in Charleston the fog lifted over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and they delivered a memorable victory against the Charleston Battery.

The first decisive victory in the Revolutionary War was fought here at the Battle of Sullivan and hopefully this result will be a catalyst to jump-start the 2017 season. A moment of sheer quality by Kerr with a stunning cross to Hertzog deep in stoppage time was the difference. Hertzog buried the diving header and the game was won 2 -1. Momentum and confidence are key ingredients for success and Pittsburgh should have it in buckets going into Wednesday’s home game with St Louis.

Fair play to Pittsburgh who looked nervous in the opening twenty minutes but eventually settled and controlled passages of the game before half time. Abubakar on loan from Columbus Crew was having a great contest with Williams and showed why he was the fifth overall pick in the recent MLS Super Draft. Hopefully Pittsburgh can retain his services for a few more games. What a great finish from Hollingsworth after some nice build up play and a really pure strike with his right foot at that. Pittsburgh will need many more goals from their midfield contingent during the season and hopefully this was the first of many.

The dynamic of the game really changed for me in the 57th minute when Banjo was introduced up front to partner Hertzog. Kerr dropped back into midfield and got more touches on the ball and could influence the game more. Both full backs came to life and got up and down the respective touchlines. By doing that Charleston got stretched and Pittsburgh opened up the channels between the full backs and central defenders, which created more space for the forwards to run into and receive through balls. It’s a big pitch at MUHC Stadium and you need to utilize every blade of grass. Pittsburgh definitely need the size of a Banjo up top and the team can get more out of Kerr in that midfield role, much in the way Vincent contributed in 2015.

Brandt came of age also on Saturday and credit to him for the astute player management.

Charleston would probably tell you they weren’t at their best but even so, the result is all that matters. Pittsburgh last season would have been on the wrong end of a late goal like this, instead they stepped up and delivered. Four points out of a possible nine is a respectable start, a building block for sure. Finding some consistency now becomes the key. I thought there were still too many poor crosses and quality of passing could have been better. Without Abubakar to anchor their back four, the defense worries me and I still have nagging doubts about Mitchell in the net.

Yet, let’s not loose sight of the fact that this was a massive win, something like only the second time in fifteen visits. Players and Staff need to enjoy this but get back to work first thing Monday with their feet firmly planted on the ground. You are only as good as your last game. The past is dust. Not getting three points at home against St Louis on Wednesday will negate a lot of these positives and as we know the USL season is a long and arduous grind to the playoffs.

One swallow does not make a summer…..


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