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March to the Match: at Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Who: Pittsburgh Riverhounds

What: Game 8: Number 3 (Pittsburgh) v. Number 4 (Louisville) in the USL Eastern Conference

When: Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time

Where: Highmark Stadium, 510 W. Station Square Dr., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Watch: Little Fox 21 or the Youtubes

Listen: 840WHAS

No way at the beginning of the season did I think we’d be playing the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (still not a real dog breed) at the number 3 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. But Pittsburgh is for real this year even if a bit inconsistent. Whereas there is a widening gap in Western Conference supremacy, the Eastern Conference is a legit cage fight, and in my opinion, will be all season. Granted, Pittsburgh is not bad, really, having made the playoffs in 2015 with a 5th place finish. But last year, amid a coaching change, they missed the playoffs badly at second-to-last place (with 17 losses — ouch!) I did not expect them at the top of the table.

Nonetheless, so far this season, they’ve beat Charleston, the Eastern Conference leaders — in Charleston – tied the defending champs, and just beat NASL quality at Ottawa. They have two of USL’s wiliest veterans, Corey Hertzog and Kevin Kerr, who create problems for any team night in and night out. The former scored on us at Highmark last season before GD4 came through with 2 in the second half to secure 3 points. (Before that one, we tied at home 2-2.) Romeo Parks (aka karate kid), a strong forward, is back. I’m all for reasonable second chances, so I’ll give him one (assuming this is his second). Defensively, Pittsburgh has as many clean sheets as us (3). Bottom line: we have our work cut out for us and then some on the road.

Louisville City comes in to this game still trying to find its best form and (hopefully) with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. We look like the best team in the league at times, and probably deserve more points than we have — but we can’t continue to tie games when we deserve the win. Even with a loss at Tampa (and despite probably deserving a goal in the first half of that one) there’s no doubt we’re playing at an elite level and have the potential to win an extremely competitive conference this year. I would venture to say right now our defense certainly rivals the 2015 and 2016 championship Defenses at Rochester and New York. Scoring should and must come second — here’s hoping creativity and hustle make it happen.

We played at Highmark on Wednesday, which bodes well for preparation — not to mention 9 golazos that should give us a bit of confidence up front. We also experimented with a new formation, 3-4-3, which I have to say, looks freakin’ awesome. Sure, we played amateur craft beer enthusiasts; but, as I said, our Defense is already off the chain. We might as well throw one more forward in the attack – against anyone.

I do not envy JOC by any stretch in choosing the lineup, back or front. With 32 games plus Open Cup, at least we know squad rotation is inevitable — and with that comes clarity on our best combinations and strategy.

#CityDads Keys to the Match for our Boys in Purple:

1,Finish decent chances with precision and accuracy
2.Ruthless finishing
3.Repeated cold-hearted take no prisoners pummeling of the ball into the opponent’s goal

Prediction:

Louisville City 3 – Pittsburgh 0

I think we’e finding our form sooner than later!

C’mon City!