Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC defeated Indy Eleven in front of their home fans.
Fall may have begun on 9/22, but the playoff race in the USL’s Eastern Conference is as hot as summer. In what could be a potential playoff matchup, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Indy Eleven battled for an ever crucial three points as both teams fight for the best possible finish in the standings. After a lackluster first half, both teams kicked it up a gear in the second half and it was the Riverhounds that walked away with the points and sole possession of 2nd place in the standings.
The weather was a bit cool and the breeze that came off the Mon River made it feel like fall was in full swing as the game kicked off, but both teams didn’t seem to mind as they were in the attacking mindset. The Riverhounds were doing a good job of spacing and starting a threat, but Indy Eleven consistently countered with their own attacks. Physicality and athleticism were on display as the first half was full of fouls, free kicks, and threats that never panned out for either side. In the 16th minute, a Riverhounds’ cross found its way right in front of Neco Brett, but thanks to a bad bounce and three Indy Eleven players all around him, the chance fizzled. Three minutes later, Christiano Francois hit a laser shot from a free kick, but the shot was just high and went over the crossbar. Indy Eleven had a solid chance in the 26th minute when an Indy Eleven player tried to bicycle the shot in, but the shot went just left of the goal. The rest of the half saw missed opportunities, good saves, and an overall bland taste in the mouth of the fans and Head Coach Bob Lilley who had this to say about the first half “The first half, we didn’t have any runs in the box. The last seven games we had no issue getting other guys forward… if there’s no one in the box, we aren’t going to score.”
Whatever adjustment Lilley made over halftime worked, as the Riverhounds were able to create runs in the box the entire second half. Ben Zemanski found the back of the net in the 48th minute thanks to a run in the box and put the Riverhounds up 1-0. A couple minutes later, thanks to another great run in the box, Neco Brett was able to find a rebound and put it back to quickly make the score 2-0. Indy Eleven kept the pressure up with a shot in the 57th minute that just went wide, and a solid cross that Lynd rose to save in the 59th minute. Four minutes after that, Lynd’s clearing attempt was blocked, but Lynd scrambled and dove to barely get a finger on the ball but get enough to knock the ball away and keep the clean sheet going. Ten minutes later, Indy Eleven was on the attack again with a free kick that rose over the bar and a header that couldn’t find the net, however they would catch a break. In the 81st minute Tobi Adewole and Joe Greenspan had some miscommunication causing them to run into each other, allowing Jack McInerney to make the score 2-1. The attacks kept ramping up, until the 90th minute when Neco Brett was tackled in the box, resulting in a Kenardo Forbes penalty shot which put the Hounds up 3-1 heading into stoppage time. Two minutes in the stoppage time. another lucky break occurred as a ball bounced off Joe Greenspan and into the net making the final score 3-2.
In the post-game press conference, Lilley was asked about the club’s performance, here are a few key quotes:
“We’re doing more things right than wrong which is why we’re fighting for a top-two finish”
“I’m not happy that the game got stretched, that our backs aren’t organized and one ball beat all of them, and that the guys stopped working.”
“It’s good that we’re creating chances, I’m more concerned about how we manage games because we aren’t going to get a second chance or do-over come playoffs.”
“We’re not trying to just make the playoffs, there’s a lot more at stake, and [the team] needs to be able to handle these moments, that’s why it’s not a great performance. It’s a good result, but not a great performance.”
With his 15th goal of the season, Neco Brett becomes the fifth player in Riverhounds’ history to score at least 15 goals in a season
Forbes’ penalty kick made this the sixth straight season that the Riverhounds have scored two penalty kicks goals
Next Time Out:
Riverhounds travel across the state to take on Penn FC, Wednesday Sept 26, at 6:30 pm.
Indy Eleven head back home to host the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Wednesday Sept 26, at 7 pm.
Top photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC