Pittsburgh Riverhounds Take Step Backward In Road Loss To Arizona United


Riverhounds defender Anthony Arena (right) goes up for a header in Pittsburgh’s loss at Arizona on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (Photo: Riverhounds.com)

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ late-season push to earn a USL Pro playoff berth took a step backwards on Saturday night, as they fell 3-1 to the Arizona United SC at Peoria Sports Complex in Phoenix.  

Arizona scored a trio of goals in the second half to stun a Riverhounds side that was not able to generate much of an attack throughout the match.   

Because of the loss, Pittsburgh (7-12-5, 26 points) stumbled three points behind Oklahoma City for the league’s eighth (and final) playoff spot with four games to play. It was Arizona’s (8-12-5, 27 points) second consecutive win, pushing them ahead of the Hounds in the USL Pro standings by a point, and into a tie with Charlotte and Orange County.

Following a scoreless, sometimes sloppy first half, Jonathan Okafor buried a loose ball from close range in the back of the net in the 51st minute after Riverhounds goalkeeper Mike Lisch made a diving save on a dangerous shot from Samuel Garza.   

That goal lifted United and the home crowd and it wouldn’t take long for them to capitalize on the energy.

Just five minutes later from the right side and five feet outside of the penalty area, Jonathan Top sailed a perfectly placed, bending shot over Lisch into the upper left corner to give Arizona a 2-0 lead.  

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The United added another goal in the 78th minute, as Brad Stissler, making a run on the right side, drilled a shot from the top of the box to put Arizona that derailed any hopes of a Riverhounds comeback.  

The Riverhounds finally mounted some late pressure, tacking on a late goal by Mackenzie Pridham, who headed in a corner kick from Rob Vincent, to cut the deficit to two goals.  

But it was too little, too late.  

Both teams came out early in the first half, exchanging sloppy possessions, giving balls away.  

Lisch was tested in a pair of sequences in the 13th minute, but turned away a hard lining shot by Jonathan Top, and a redirected header from Long Tan.  

The Riverhounds could not mount any shots on goal in the first half, despite a few dangerous crosses from Matt Dallman and a shot by Rob Vincent from 30 yards that  sailed over the crossbar in the 36th minute.     

Riverhounds made the road trip without a handful of key contributors, including team captain, Danny Earls (aggregate yellow cards), leading scorer Jose Angulo, Joseph Ngwenya and Andrew Marshall who were sidelined with injuries.

Interim head coach Niko Katic’s makeshift starting eleven included Mike Lisch (GK), Matt Dallman, Andrew Ribeiro, Anthony Arena, Sterling Flunder, Anthony Obodai, Kevin Kerr, Rob Vincent, Mike Green, Seth C’deBaca. Pridham replaced Obodai in the 58th minute.   

The Riverhounds have four games remaining, and still have a chance to earn a playoff berth, but will likely need victories in each match.   They remain tied with Wilmington in the standings as both teams failed to win during the weekend.   

The Hounds return home to Highmark Stadium to face the FC Dallas Reserves for a 3 p.m. match on Sunday, Aug. 24.

This report was provided by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.