Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s undefeated start to the season reached six games as it took a 1-0 victory against ATL UTD 2 on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium Pittsburgh’s Christiano Francois almost put his side ahead on a close-range chance but was unable to control Ray Lee’s cross and sent his finish high. Francois played a key role as Riverhounds SC took the lead in the 26th minute, however, as his weaving run into the penalty area set up Neco Brett for his fourth goal of the season. Francois also flashed a shot just wide of the left post from the right side of the penalty area for the hosts, and Jordan Dover had a shot turned wide, but the hosts retained their one-goal lead at the break. The second half produced fewer chances for either side, as Atlanta’s Andrew Carleton shot over the crossbar with 12 minutes to go on a free kick from just outside the penalty area, but with five minutes to go Miles Robinson was shown his second yellow card of the night for the visitors which helped the Hounds see out the victory and continue their strong start to the season.
26’ – PGH – Neco Brett (Christiano Francois)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Riverhounds SC continued its best start to a season thanks to a vibrant display in the first half that ceded more possession to its visitors but pressed effectively to make the most of the chances it created when it had the ball. Pittsburgh should have taken the lead earlier than the moment that ended up as the decisive moment in the game, and will want to be sharper in its finishing, but Christiano Francois’ smart play to set up Neco Brett for the only goal of the game made sure a solid effort didn’t end up without its reward.
2. For a second consecutive performance, ATL UTD 2 by no means performed poorly, but the visitors were unable to find enough incisiveness in the attacking third – and at times in midfield to break down the Hounds’ pressure – to create enough clear looks at goal. The visitors were held without a shot on goal, a disappointing return as Riverhounds SC’s seemed consistently sharper in challenges and claiming possession with 19 interceptions on the night to Atlanta’s seven.
3. Pittsburgh has never experienced a start to the season like this in its history, and the effectiveness of the pressing and attacking style that Head Coach Bob Lilley has installed should be making other teams around the Eastern Conference nervous. Yet to trail in a game this season, there will be bigger tests coming soon for the Hounds, but the side is now in the top four in the Eastern Conference and shows no sign of slowing down.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Christiano Francois, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Francois produced the key to set up Neco Brett for the only goal of the game and consistently threatened down the right side in another stellar display.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Toronto FC II – May 5, 6 p.m. ET, Marina Auto Stadium
ATL UTD 2 at FC Cincinnati – May 5, 7 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium