Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds claimed their first back-to-back victories in more than a year with a 1-0 victory against Toronto FC II in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3 at Highmark Stadium on Wednesday night. Toronto had the better of the early going, but the Riverhounds took the lead in the 22nd minute as a quick pair of passes by Kevin Kerr and Marshall Hollingsworth teed up Victor Souto for a driven finish from 25 yards out. Hollingsworth almost doubled the lead six minutes later, only to be denied at point-blank range by TFC II goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo, while Kevin Kerr curled a finish just high and wide soon after with the outside of his right foot. The Riverhounds continued to create the better chances in the second half, as Michael Green had his shot blocked after a big counter-attack led by Hollingsworth. Toronto, meanwhile, was unable to muster an effort toward goal in the opening 20 minutes of the second half despite shading the possession battle. Malik Johnson’s volley from the edge of the penalty flew high and wide with 14 minutes to go. Pittsburgh’s Corey Hertzog forced a big save from Cavalluzzo with seven minutes to go as his dipping shot from 30 yards was tipped over, while Toronto's Ryan Telfer shot just over after Hounds goalkeeper Trey Mitchell had punched clear from the left side of his penalty area, but the Riverhounds held on for a big three points.
22’ – PGH – Victor Souto (Marshall Hollingsworth)
Three Things That Matter:
1. With the way Toronto had been defending, it was going to take something special to break the three-plus game shutout streak the side carried into Wednesday’s game. In Victor Souto’s first professional goal, the Riverhounds found it. The central midfielder was well found by Kevin Kerr and Marshall Hollingsworth’s quick pair of passes that opened up space for the former Akron player, but Souto’s finish was impeccable to the top-right corner of the net from long range, giving Angelo Cavalluzzo little chance.
2. TFC II looked sharp in its build-up throughout the first half, but despite creating some penetration into the penalty area the visitors were unable to turn it into close-range chances. Toronto finished with eight shots in the first half, two of which forced saves from Riverhounds goalkeeper Trey Mitchell, but only two came from within the penalty area as the center back duo of Jamal Jack and Joe Greenspan were strong in the challenge to limit Toronto’s looks at goal.
3. The Riverhounds’ victory, their second in a row, will have lifted a major weight off the team’s shoulders, as it marked the first time the club had won back-to-back regular season contests since August, 2015. Pittsburgh’s struggles last season, when it claimed just six wins, was a tough experience for the club and its fans. Now into double-digit points, there are clear reasons for optimism at Highmark Stadium as we enter the second full month of the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Victor Souto, Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Souto didn’t have his sharpest game in possession, but his game-winning goal and ability to win possession in midfield played a key role in the Riverhounds’ victory.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Ottawa Fury FC – May 13, 2 p.m. ET, TD Place
Toronto FC II vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – May 13, 6 p.m. ET, BMO Field