Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds and FC Cincinnati played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night at Highmark Stadium officially eliminating the hosts from playoff contention. Cincinnati had slightly the better of the play in the opening half-hour, as a header by Sean Okoli in the 12th minute went just over the crossbar, and Omar Mohamed cut in from the right in the 28th minute and shot over the crossbar from 20 yards. The Riverhounds almost capitalized on a defensive mistake, only for Kevin Kerr to shoot wide after FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt shanked a clearance, but the game went to the halftime breakscoreless. Both teams had chances midway through the second half, as Kerr sent a shot just wide of the left post from 20 yards, and Cincinnati’s Andrew Wiedeman was denied by a fine save by Riverhounds goalkeeper Zack Steffen. FCC’s Casey Townsend then hit the crossbar from close range as the visitors upped the tempo, while Jimmy McLaughlin shot just wide of the right post with 12 minutes to go. Neither side was able to break the deadlock late on, though, as the game ended scoreless.
Three Things That Matter:
1. Cincinnati continued to move toward a home playoff berth in the postseason with a point in Pittsburgh, but didn’t seem quite as on the boil as it had in its previous two victories against Saint Louis and Wilmington. For much of the game, the side couldn’t quite find its normal attacking combinations as the Riverhounds’ defense remained well organized, and Zach Steffen controlled his penalty area well on crosses delivered in looking for Sean Okoli and Andrew Wiedeman.
2. The one spell that was the exception for the visitors arrived just past the hour-mark, when Cincinnati briefly found a higher gear. Jimmy McLaughlin – brought on as a halftime substitute – provided some of the spark as he sent in a great cross from the left that Wiedeman had parried away for a corner by Steffen. The attempt seemed to energize FCC, and another big chance manifested itself a few minutes later when Wiedeman turned his defender brilliantly by the right touchline and cut into the penalty area. A low cross found Casey Townsend at the top of the six-yard area, but his finish found the crossbar and was cleared as the Riverhounds breathed a sigh of relief.
3. Pittsburgh had some good spells of its own in the contest, and was opportunistic when Cincinnati gave possession away cheaply. For the most-part, though, the Riverhounds weren’t quite decisive enough with the final pass in the attacking third, which led to a number of potential chances going astray. A draw now sees the side officially planning for the 2017 season after its mathematical playoff elimination, with Coach Dave Brandt having plenty of work to do this offseason.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Zack Steffen, Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Steffen made the best save of the night to deny Wiedeman, and was commanding in his area for the rest of the evening as he recorded the shutout.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Bethlehem Steel FC – Sept. 18, 3 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium
FC Cincinnati vs. Orlando City B – Sept. 17, 7 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium