Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Harrisburg City Islanders played to a 0-0 draw in the first edition of this season’s Keystone Derby Cup on Monday night at Highmark Stadium. Neither side found the net in the first half, as Pittsburgh’s Zak Boggs forced a good save by Harrisburg goalkeeper Nick Noble early, while Harrisburg’s Jose Barril saw his chipped finish cleared off the line by Karsten Smith 10 minutes before the break. Barril forced a good save by Riverhounds goalkeeper Maurivio Vargas in the 62nd minute with a shot to the left corner, while City Islanders defender Shawn McLaws had to make a risky clearance over his own crossbar to deny a close-range chance 10 minutes later as the game opened up nicely. Harrisburg was reduced to 10 men when Dante Leverock was sent off late on, but the Riverhounds were unable to take advantage as the game ended scoreless.
Three Things That Matter:
1. This season’s first edition of the Keystone Derby Cup didn’t have the goals of a season ago, but it did continue the up-and-down nature of the contests as both teams had good chances to take victory in the game. Pittsburgh will be a little disappointed to not have taken advantage of its early pressure, but as the game went on Harrisburg went blow-for-blow with its in-state rival as it forced three good saves from Riverhounds goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas to earn his shutout.
2. The Riverhounds have taken on a new look under new Head Coach Dave Brandt, and the new approach appears to be starting to take hold as the hosts looked much brighter and more energetic than they had at the start of the season. Among the players that have been held over from previous starting 11s, Corey Hertzog’s confidence appears to be up, and he combined well with players like Lebo Moloto and Zak Boggs to create chances for the side that could end up in the back of the net on another night.
3. With both teams in the bottom third of the Eastern Conference, a draw was not an ideal result for either side in terms of finding a way back into the playoff race. The City Islanders saw its run of playoff appearances come to an end last season, while Pittsburgh has alternated seasons of making and missing the playoffs in its USL history, but this season could mark the first when both Pennsylvania clubs are on the outside looking in.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Mauricio Vargas, Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Vargas claimed his first professional shutout with a solid performance in goal that saw him make a number of good saves in the second half to keep the game scoreless.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Bethlehem Steel FC – July 10, 4 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Richmond Kickers – July 8, 7 p.m. ET, Clipper Magazine Stadium