Hounds Earn Home Victory against New York, 4-1
PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (4-2-0) defeated New York Red Bulls II (2-4-0), 4-1, in its second straight match at Highmark Stadium.
Robbie Mertz converted on a penalty kick in the 3rd minute and scored again in the 61st minute. Ropapa Mensah added a goal in the 65th minute, and Anthony Velarde gave the Hounds their fourth goal in the 80th minute. New York used a goal from Dantouma Tourein the third minute of second-half stoppage time to avoid the shutout.
With the win, Pittsburgh reclaims its spot atop Group F.
The Hounds put pressure on New York early and often. In just the 2nd minute, Mensah drew a foul in the penalty area. Mertz then converted the penalty, sending a shot into the bottom-right corner to give the Hounds an early lead.
Mensah was on the attack again in the 26th minute, but sent a left-footed shot to the left of the goal. Another great opportunity presented itself in the 37th minute, when Mertz had some space in the center of the penalty box. After a great pass from Danny Griffin, Mertz narrowly missed a shot high to the left.
The Hounds also kept New York from creating several quality chances. New York finished the half with zero shots on goal, its best chance coming in the 34th minute, when Jake LaCava sent a shot from outside the 18-yard box wide left of the net.
The Hounds outshot New York, 9-6, and were even in time of possession during the first half.
The Hounds continued to pour on the pressure to start the second half. In the 47th minute, Mensah found room in the right side of the penalty box and missed a shot just high. He had another opportunity in the 51st minute, after Mertz set him up in the left side of the penalty area. Mensah narrowly missed a right-footed shot to the right of the net.
They would not have to wait long for their hard work to pay off. In the 61st minute, a shot from Ryan James was blocked on the left side. The ball rolled into the center of the penalty box, where Mertz was waiting to hammer it into the back of the net. The goal, Mertz's second of the night, gave the Hounds a two-goal lead.
Just four minutes later, Mensah took a long pass from Ray Lee in stride just outside the penalty area. Mensah then gathered and launched a right-footed shot into the bottom-left corner, giving the Hounds a 3-0 lead.
The Hounds added another goal in the 80th minute, after Velarde sent a shot from the left side into the bottom-left corner. New York would then use a goal from Torre to get on the board in the 90'+3, making the final score, 4-1.
Hound of the Match, presented by EPIC
Robbie Mertz was a crucial part of Pittsburgh's attack, scoring two goals and setting up several other opportunities.
Beyond the Box Score, presented by Beyond Self Storage
The Hounds hold the highest goal differential in the USL Championship at +13.
Riverhounds SC travels to Indy Eleven (5-2-1) for a match at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The match will be televised on 22 The Point.
Riverhounds SC - Tomas Gomez; Ryan James, Ray Lee (Hunter Ashworth 84'), Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Skylar Thomas, Jordan Dover; Kenardo Forbes (Dakota Barnathan 84'), Danny Griffin (Anthony Velarde 78'), Robbie Mertz (Lukas Fernandes 84'); Steevan Dos Santos, Ropapa Mensah (Dani Rovira 78')
Subs not used: Danny Vitiello, Mark Forrest
New York Red Bulls II - Wallis Lapsley; Samad Bounthong (Edgardo Rito 45'), Roy Boateng (Preston Kilwien 45'), Joseph Fala, John Tolkin (Dantouma Toure 79'); Barry Sharifi, Chris Lema, Deri Corfe, Caden Clark (Daniel Edelman 66'); Jake LaCava, Sebastian Elney (Cherif Dieye 67')
Subs not used: Alex Bobocea, Boima Cummins
PIT - Robbie Mertz 3' (penalty)
PIT - Robbie Mertz 61'
PIT - Ropapa Mensah 65' (Ray Lee)
PIT - Anthony Velarde 80'
NY - Dantouma Toure 90'+3 (Cherif Dieye)
NY - Samad Bounthong 2' (caution)
PIT - Skylar Thomas 15' (caution)
PIT - Steevan Dos Santos 42' (caution)
Head coach Bob Lilley
On the team's performance...
"We weren't good enough with the game plan in the first half. I think in the second half, we were able to find escape balls, our movement was better, and we got good runs out of the midfield from guys like Danny Griffin and Robbie Mertz. We knew if we could get the ball out of pressure, we could get opportunities. The difference in the second half was that we were still battling well, but we were executing better."
On Robbie Mertz...
"He did a great job. We knew that if we could release those guys, that they could have an impact on the game. I think Robbie was spot on."
On the team's defense...
"We knew we had the personnel to combat New York's attack, and I felt like we showed that in the second half. We slowed them down, and they didn't have a ton of clear-cut chances. I would've liked to get the shutout on the night, but I felt like we defended well throughout the match."
Midfielder Robbie Mertz
On the win...
"The score was 4-1, but I felt like it was a much closer game than that. But that's how soccer works--you get a couple breaks, and we finished our chances tonight. It's really a game of inches, and we took advantage of our chances."
On the second half...
"I think we did a better job getting the ball forward in the second half. We talk about the game being a 90 minute performance, and even though coach Lilley would tell you we didn't play great in the first half, it was important for us moving forward."
On familiarity with Group F opponents...
"I'll be honest, I don't like it. I like when each game presents a new challenge. We've played New York twice in two weeks, so we knew what to expect. There was no feeling-out period in the beginning of the game, when you try to see what system they're running. I think we did a better job offensively this time."
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