Coming off an 11-day break, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (5-6-4, 19 points) take the pitch Tuesday, July 4 against Eastern Conference adversary, the Charlotte Independence (6-3-4, 22 points) at Highmark Stadium. The clash between these two United Soccer League combatants begins at 7:00 p.m.
This confrontation is the second and last meeting for the Black and Gold and the Blue and White for the regular season. The opening contest wrapped up in a 1-1 tie Saturday, April 15 at the Sportsplex at Matthews in the Tar Heel State. During the 2016 campaign, the Independence swept the series with a pair of shutouts, 3-0 and 4-0. Charlotte leads the all-time series 4-0-2.
Followers of the Hounds enjoyed a 2-0 shutout at home by the team Thursday, June 22, over the Tampa Bay Rowdies (6-5-6, 24 points). Head coach, Dave Brandt’s squad, is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, two slots away from the eighth and final playoff spot. They are 3-4-1 at home on the South Side.
Forward Chevaughn Walsh claimed his first goal in his first start of 2017 by putting up a scoring strike against the Boys from the Big Guava on a pass from Corey Hertzog in the 11th minute of the first half. Romeo Parkes, who took Walsh’s place on the field, added the second score to the left of Tampa goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the 88th minute of the second half. It was Parkes’ second goal in seven appearances.
Pittsburgh goalkeeper Keasel Broome took charge of the net for just the third time this season after starter Trey Mitchell endured a shoulder injury during pregame warm-ups. He contributed five saves to the win and received USL Team of the Week honors. Broome’s last start was Wednesday, April 12, a 2-1 loss to Saint Louis F.C. here in the Steel City. He temporarily left the Hounds and is playing for his native country Barbados at the Windward Island Tournament in Grenada.
Three players are out for the Hounds including Rich Balchan – Achilles; Kay Banjo – Knee; and Trey Mitchell – Shoulder. Gale Agbossoumonde is probable for Tuesday because of his hip.
UPDATE: Per John Krysinsky of dkpittsburghsports.com (subscription service), Pittsburgh added on loan from the North American Soccer League, goalkeeper Macklin Robinson of North Carolina FC and defender Shannon Gomez from Major League Soccer’s New York City FC to help bolster the roster. Hounds goalkeeper coach Hunter Gilstrap is going to serve as a backup goalie.
Charlotte is 3-0-1 in their last four games, giving up a total of two goals over the quartet of contests. The Blue and White’s most recent meeting was a 2-1 victory Saturday, July 1 at home against the Rochester Rhinos (5-3-5, 20 points). Head coach Mike Jeffries’ crew is in fifth place in the East. They are 3-2-2 on the road.
Midfielder Enzo Martinez has six goals and 30 shots in 10 appearances for the Independence. Forward Jorge Herrera and midfielder Alex Martinez share the lead in assists with three apiece. Defender Luke Waechter owns nine blocks while midfielder Jun Marques Davidson has 29 interceptions. Goalie Cody Mizell started all 13 matches and has 37 saves and a pair of shutouts. Midfielder Callum Ross is under suspension.
Prediction: I believe this match is a potential turning point for the Riverhounds to climb the standings into playoff contention. The Black and Gold celebrates the Fourth of July with their fans by grabbing their sixth victory 1-0.
From The Clipboard: Checking in with the beautiful game watchers at Massey Ratings, the Hounds moved up one slot to No. 11 this week while the Independence is holding steady at No. 5.
Next Up: Pittsburgh heads out for a three-game road trip, beginning in the Sunshine State Saturday, July 8 for a 7:30 p.m. rematch with Orlando City B (5-6-5, 20 points) at City Stadium.
Looking Back With United Soccer League On YouTube.com – HIGHLIGHTS: #PGHvTBR 6/22/17…