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NCFC Travel to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

May 17, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
North Carolina FC News Release

PITTSBURGH - North Carolina FC hit the road for the team's second game of Week 11 of the 2024 USL Championship season, heading north to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday, May 18, at 7 p.m. ET at Highmark Stadium. The match will stream live on ESPN+.

NCFC enters the match in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, jumping four spots following Tuesday's 2-0 win over Loudoun, with 10 points from 10 matches and a 2-4-4 record. The Riverhounds sit just ahead in seventh place with 12 points from nine games and a 3-3-3 record.

The all-time series between NCFC and the Riverhounds is tied at two wins a piece, with the last meeting in the 2019 USL Championship season resulting in a 5-0 NCFC home win. Dre Fortune and Donovan Ewolo both bagged braces, while Robert Kristo added the fifth and final goal in that game. The home team has won all four meetings between the two.

NCFC enter Saturday's contest on the back of a big midweek win over Loudoun United FC. Paco Craig opened the scoring with a stunning volley on the half turn, redirecting a cross from Rafa Mentzingen goalward for his first goal in an NCFC shirt. Ezra Armstrong added the stoppage-time dagger, slamming home a setup from Rodrigo Da Costa for his second goal of the season.

The much-needed win was a statistically dominant showing from NCFC, who outshot Loudoun 22-5 and allowed just one shot on target. NCFC's defense has been the foundation for success this season, with the team allowing the least shots on target in the league with just 22 from 10 games.

Evan Conway's recent return from injury has added a spark to the NCFC offense. He created three chances Tuesday, matching Mentzingen for a team high.

Collin Martin surpassed 10,000 USL Championship minutes in the win, with the latest 850 minutes of that milestone coming with NCFC this season. Raheem Somersall will be on milestone watch this weekend as his next appearance will be his 100th in USL regular season play.

Scouting Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

After starting the year with three straight losses, Pittsburgh is unbeaten in their last six matches with three wins and three draws. That streak includes wins over reigning USL Championship title winners Phoenix Rising FC, Detroit City FC and Miami FC.

With 2023 USL Championship MVP Albert Dikwa departing for Rhode Island FC in the offseason, Pittsburgh newcomer Kazaiah Sterling has led the way for the Riverhounds attack this season with three goals in just 356 minutes. The former Tottenham Hotspur youth player spent the last two seasons in USL League One with South Georgia Tormenta, lighting up the league with 26 goals in 45 appearances.

Edward Kizza, a former Pitt Panther who joined the Riverhounds permanently in 2023 after an initial loan from MLS' New England Revolution in 2022, and Danny Griffin each have two goals this season.

Junior Etou leads Pittsburgh in assists with two, but much of the attack runs through Robbie Mertz, brother of North Carolina Courage rookie midfielder Landy Mertz. Mertz is in his second stint with Pittsburgh and leads the team with 14 chances created.

Eric Dick has been the main man in goal for Pittsburgh this season, making 20 saves and allowing seven goals in eight appearances, but Gabriel Perrotta started the team's most recent game and allowed two goals, while making two saves.

Next Up

NCFC will be back on the road for Week 12 of the USL Championship season, heading down to the sunshine state to take on Miami FC at FIU Soccer Stadium on Saturday, May 25, at 7 p.m. ET. The match will stream live on ESPN+.

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