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 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Hounds Topple Reigning Champs in Phoenix

April 21, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC News Release

Goals by Kazaiah Sterling, Edward Kizza and Babacar Diene powered the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to their first win of the season, 3-1, over the reigning champion of the USL Championship, Phoenix Rising FC, late Saturday night at Phoenix Rising Soccer Stadium in Arizona.

Rémi Cabral scored for Phoenix (2-4-1), which tied the match 1-1 before halftime. The Hounds (1-3-2) pulled away to win by being only the second team in seven matches to score multiple goals against Phoenix.

It was the Hounds' first win on the road against a Western Conference team since inter-conference play resumed in 2021, having gone 0-5-6 in their past 11 matches when traveling to a Western opponent.

First half

The game had plenty of chances each way - Phoenix outshot the Hounds 19-10 overall - and in the 20th minute, Hounds goalkeeper Eric Dick was forced into the first of three saves, a dive to the right to stop Cabral.

The scoring opened in the 26th minute when Robbie Mertz fed a pass into the box toward Kizza, who cleverly pushed a backheeled pass into the path of Sterling. The English striker made no mistake with his driven shot, scoring his first goal as a member of the Hounds.

Two minutes later, Cabral leveled the score with a good individual run across the top of the box, moving to his left and finishing with a shot from 15 yards away.

Second half

The second half began with a moment of controversy in the opening minute, as Sterling put the ball into the net after Junior Etou's shot rebounded off the arm of Phoenix defender Pape Boye. Referee Brad Jensen blew his whistle too quickly, however, awarding a penalty kick, disallowing the goal and carding Boye. Sterling stepped up to take the penalty kick, but his effort missed high of the right corner of the net, keeping the match level.

Phoenix then had their own chance to take the lead in the 54th minute, but Dick got enough of a glove on José Hernandez's shot from the center of the box to push it off the right post and away from goal.

Kizza gave the Hounds the lead for good at the end of some good link-up passing in the 62nd minute. The play ended with Etou receiving the ball in the box and playing a pass squarely across the face of goal for Kizza, who netted his second goal of the season.

The Hounds defended to keep their lead, and in the 90th minute, Etou again created havoc working the left side. His pass toward Danny Griffin was met by two Phoenix defenders in the box, but the ball deflected into the path of Diene, who scored his first professional goal and sealed the three points.

Modelo Man of the Match

Edward Kizza takes the honor for a second straight contest after recording the game-winning goal and a creative assist on Sterling's opening strike. Kizza also connected on 84 percent of his passes and won possession a match-high seven times.

What's next?

After taking four of six points on the road, the Hounds come back home to face Detroit City FC (5-0-0), the only team remaining with a perfect record in the USL Championship. The rematch of last year's playoffs will be a 7 p.m. Saturday kickoff.

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United Soccer League Championship Stories from April 21, 2024

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