The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (10-3-7, 37 points) defeated the Richmond Kickers (5-12-3, 15 points) by the score of 3-0. The Riverhounds entered the game looking to gain momentum as a two-game losing skid, which moved them from second to fourth in the USL Eastern Conference Standings.
It didn’t take long for the Riverhounds to get on the board as Neco Brett scored his team-leading 9th goal for the Riverhounds. It happened just five minutes in the game, as a ball was played to Neco at the top of the box. Kickers’ defenseman Austin Yearwood was able to get his head on the ball, but the ball would fall right in front of Neco. Neco then shot the ball to the lower left corner where it crossed the goal line and put the Riverhounds up 1-0.
“As a player that coach beleiving in you is something you like,” said Neco Brett about scoring is first goal in over a month, “especially when you’re not doing so well. That’s really important to me and it gave me the extra push to go out there.”
The Riverhounds had another chance on a free kick about five minutes later. The kick would reach the left side of the net, but keeper Trevor Spangenberg was able to knock the ball away. A couple Hounds players were there to try and attempt the rebound, but the ball would go out of bounds and the Kickers were awarded a goal kick.
The first twenty minutes of the game was filled with great chances by the Hounds. In addition to the goal and free kick, Christiano Francios and Noah Franke both generated great opportunities to extend the Riverhounds’ lead. The most notable ones were by Franke, who had a hard shot that barely sailed over the corner. He shortly followed that up with a breakaway on the right side. The resulting shot barely missed the left post.
Through the first 40 minutes (stats according to the Riverhounds website), the Hounds led in shots 6-1 and shots on goal 4-0. Most importantly they led on the scoreboard 1-0 and had control of all of the momentum in those 40 minutes.
At the 43 minute mark, Riverhounds’ midfielder Ben Zemanski picked up a yellow card after his fourth foul of the night. That would be the last moment of significance in the first half and the Hounds entered halftime with a 1-0 lead over the Kickers.
The Riverhounds started the second half the same way as the started the first, with a Neco Brett goal within the first five minutes. Scratch that, this one was called back after Bret was called offsides. Shortly after that, Andrew Lobhan for the Riverhounds received a yellow card. The yellow card was the second of the game for the Riverhounds and the first for Lobhan.
“The second half,” said coach Lilley, “they had a few looks and the game was still on a nice edge. I think the mentality today was good and we had some nice chances because of it.”
The Riverhounds would pick up their third yellow card about ten minutes later when Todd Praztner was called for a yellow just outside of the box. This set up a free kick for the Kickers, which would be stopped by the Hounds. An interesting development did come from that as Noah Franke dived out of bounds and into a Richmond player to try and save the ball. Kickers’ forward Guiseppe Gentile took issue with the dive and got into a heated shoving match with Franke. Neither player would get carded and the game would continue.
However, just a short time later, Kickers’ midfielder Mathew Buldoc would receive a yellow card after pulling Mohamed Dabo down to the ground. It was the fourth yellow card of the game for both teams. This incident took place around the 60-minute mark in the game.
At the 64-minute mark, the Hounds brought in Kenardo Forbes and Joe Greenspan for Andrew Lubahn and Ben Zamanski. This substitution was quickly followed by another Neco Brett goal at the 69-minute mark. The goal by Brett was his second goal of the game and his tenth of the year.
At the 77-minute mark, the Hounds would make their third and final substitution of the night, bringing in midfielder Ben Fitzpatrick to replace Christiano Francios. This is the season debut for Fitzpatrick, who four minutes later would score on a breakaway to make the score 3-0. It was the first goal for Fitzpatrick in his USL career.
“It’s been a long season for me,” said Ben Fitzpatrick who was all smiles after the game. “I missed three months with a sports hernia injury I got in preseason. The first time I got in was this game and I wasn’t sure I was going to get in. But if I did, I knew I had to prove myself.”
The Hounds came close to adding to that lead a little bit later as Noah Franke had a breakaway, but was tripped by Mekeil Williams just outside of the box. Williams received a yellow card on the play and the Hounds received a free kick. The Hounds were unable to score on the free kick.
The final score was 3-0 with the Hounds controlling the tempo for the whole game. The win ends a two-game losing streak for the Hounds, as well as moving them ahead of Lousiville City FC (10-4-5, 35 points) in the standings. The Riverhounds next game will be against Toronto FC II (1-15-3, 6 points) on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.