Looking to add to their Independence Day celebrations, and coming off their 2-1 victory on the road over the Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds seek to claim their third victory of the season when they take the pitch at Highmark Stadium today against the Rochester Rhinos.
This evening’s contest is the final match in the three game series between the two clubs as they swapped victories on the road. Rochester won the first encounter on the South Side 1-0 on May 17. The Hounds edged the Rhinos 3-2 on June 7, claiming not only their first win of the season, but their first ever victory at Sahlen’s Stadium after 19 attempts. Tonight’s match is set to get underway at 7:00 p.m.
For those in the Steel Army unable to make to Station Square, it will be streamed live on the USL Pro’s YouTube channel.
Rochester (6-5-6, 24 points) is in sixth place in the USL Pro standings. They are tied for fifth place in points in the standings with the Orange County Blues FC (8-8-0, 24 points).
Last Saturday night, the Rhinos were shut out 1-0 by the Charlotte Eagles, which concluded a stretch of seven matches in 17 days. They went 2-2-1 in USL Pro play while defeating D.C. United of MLS in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play before bowing out of the tournament in the fifth round with a 2-1 loss to their MLS affiliate, the New England Revolution.
Head coach Bob Lilley’s crew is 4-2-4 in its first 10 matches of the season on the road. Overall, Rochester has the league’s second-best goals allowed record with 13 goals surrendered in 17 contests.
Pittsburgh’s defense will need to contain forward/midfielder JC Banks, 2012 Rhinos MVP, as he leads the team in scoring with five goals and two assists and in shots with 24. First-year forward’s Alex Dixon has contributed three goals, two assists, and 20 shots while Minh Vu has put up two goals, two assists, and 13 shots.
With a victory tonight, the Hounds (2-8-5, 11 points) could move out of the bottom of the USL Pro table as they trail both the Harrisburg City Islanders (3-7-4, 13 points) and Arizona United SC (4-8-3, 13 points) by just two points.
Overall, Pittsburgh is seven points out of the last playoff spot held right now by next week’s opponent, the Oklahoma City Energy FC, with 11 matches still to be played.
It was defender Mike Green who scored both goals in the second half in the win over the Dayton Dutch Lions at mid-week. Rochester goaltender John McCarthy will have to stop 2013 USL Pro MVP Jose Angulo and former Fulham striker Collins John who each have four goals. Defender Brian Fekete also has two goals on the season, the same as Green.
It will be interesting to see who interim head coach Nikola Katic starts in goal tonight. Michael Lisch, who is on loan from the Houston Dynamo of MLS, had six saves in the 3-2 win in Rochester back at the beginning of June, while Hunter Gilstap put up four saves in the 2-1 victory over Dayton.
The Hounds will visit Pribil Stadium for the first time to take on the OKC Energy FC (5-7-3, 18 points) on Saturday, July 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Riverhounds Reinforcements: You can vote for the USL Pro Goal of the Month for June on the league web site. One of the choices for Hounds fans is Jose Angulo’s score against Richmond back on June 22nd. The poll closes on Monday, July 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Angulo and defender Sterling Flunder both earned honorable mentions for USL Pro Team of the Week recognition for Week 15.
The Riverhounds U-23 squad (1-7-1, 4 points) will take the pitch at Highmark Stadium at 2:00 p.m. as they host K-W United FC (5-2-3, 18 points) in USL PDL action.