The Nightingale: Charlotte
By Richard Nightingale
More Sparklers Than Fireworks
While Brandt can moan that Pittsburgh didn’t get any breaks from the referee on the night, they deserved to loose.
A defeat at home on July 4th always stings because with the post game fireworks display you are guaranteed a full house. A lot of potential “first time” fans rolled into Highmark Stadium on Tuesday night not quite sure of what they were going to see and saw Pittsburgh fall to Charlotte 3 – 1. They got to see their firework display post game, but on the field it was more a case of “Sparklers”.
Three pivotal mistakes by Pittsburgh and Charlotte had their three points. Firstly, Shannon Gomez on loan from NYCFC and playing his first USL game took a heavy touch trying to defend a ball that he should easily have cleared and a sliding Enzo Martinez reacted first to slot the ball home. Secondly, Gale Agbossoumonde made a rash decision in challenging a high ball into Jorge Herrera just inside the top of the box and caught the Charlotte forward with his studs in the midriff. Penalty. Herrera got up and calmly stroked the ball past the motionless Pittsburgh keeper, Macklin Robinson. Then Robinson making his first start on loan from NCFC completely misjudged a corner swung in from Herrera and the ball sailed into the roof of the net. Game over.
Chevy Walsh on for Pittsburgh as a substitute scored a spectacular left footed strike from the top of the box for a consolation goal. Two goals in two games for this enigma of a player. Pittsburgh certainly had a good shout for a penalty late on but probably more for the tug on Walsh’s shirt than Hertzog being fouled in the box during the same sequence of play.
Anyone connected with Soccer at any level has known games like these where you perceive nothing is going for you and the referee is out to do you in. Truth is in the calm of the morning after you do realize that your destiny is in your own hands and just maybe some of the wounds were self inflicted. The three mistakes certainly. We all second-guess after a defeat and while “this too shall pass” this is what troubled me:
- Charlotte looked like the Home team. They had close to seventy percent of the possession.
- Tobi Adewole was given his first professional start when Taylor Washington arguably one of the most consistent players to date for Pittsburgh was rested and available after suspension.
- Coach Brandt can’t help himself, has to ‘tinker’ with the lineup even after a win in their prior game and benched Earls and Walsh. Howell didn’t even make the bench, was he injured?
- Need to put out an APB for Kay Banjo. What’s the story there, long-term injury?
- Souto – Green combination in center midfield doesn’t work. Both play the ball sideways more than forward and more defensive than offensive minded. Also, neither can go “box to box”.
- Really miss Abubakar, the partnership of Agbossoumonde and Jack on the back line is dicey .
- Hertzog looks stale. Had a couple of efforts first half that expected more from and while on a scoring drought, opponents seem to have figured out a way to “neutralize” him. If he doesn’t find his form and goal prowess then Pittsburgh are going to struggle period.
- Kerr is just running around, like a chicken with his head cut off. You can see the frustration creeping into his game. Seems to play a different position every game to accommodate other players. That’s a recipe for disaster.
- Complete lack of creativity in the last third, especially through the midfield players.
- Three away games on the bounce after this disappointing home performance.
So, let’s take a step back from the edge and acknowledge that still a long way to go this season. Plenty of points to be had. All teams have bad outings, spells of indifferent play but the good ones figure out how to find the corner. When Coach Brandt makes the claim that he has 18 – 19 players that can start, that worries me as clearly not the case. He might be playing “mind games” with the squad but has to quickly settle on a starting eleven and keep them injury free. Inserting these loanees in for single games is for the most part disruptive and unsettling not only on the field but also in the locker room. I still maintain that Pittsburgh is a playoff team (eighth spot) and you can go on my personal blog www.rnightingale.com to read about which teams I believe will qualify, those that will miss out and number of points needed. Time for Pittsburgh to re-group, put this game behind them and get ready for another stern test away at Orlando on Saturday. Orlando are very beatable and a great stadium to play in. I shall be there.
Richard Nightingale was the Riverhounds President for the 2015 season. For more from him you can follow his twitter account, @richnightoregon.