Mark it down. Week 3, the Hounds get their first win. And not just any win, but a win on a the road. And not just any road win, but a win against the Charleston Battery. I can’t remember the last time the Battery had a bad season, and if the stat I saw floating around Twitter is true, we haven’t beaten the Battery in over 5 years. By every measurement these were a big three points. Not to mention 3 points towards the Old Guard Shield!
It was interesting seeing the defensive formation the Hounds fell into when they lost the ball in the first half. After the change in possession the entire team retreated back to just behind the mid line and hunkered down, daring Charleston to try to get through. While they played deep, it kept them from getting stretched out and made it very difficult for Charleston to get quality possessions through the mid field. If you look at the stats the Battery didn’t have very many successful passes past the mid field line in the first half. Where the Battery did have success was on quick counters. The Hounds looked formidable and confident when they could get set, but when they couldn’t they looked a little panicky. Case in point Charleston’s lone goal. It could prove to be the Hounds kryptonite this season, and something to keep an eye on.
What more can be said about Kerr and Hertzog? They’re looking like this year’s Dallman and Angulo. If they can keep up this chemistry the Hounds offense will tear through the East this season. Someone else to keep an eye on is Kay Banjo. The border line super sub has been injecting a ton of energy and looking dangerous whenever he comes in. His give and go with Hollingsworth on the first goal was a beaut, and he almost put one in himself later on. I’m guessing he’s not fully match fit to start, but having a guy like that be able to come off the bench is a pretty good thing to have.
What They’re Saying
The Hounds showed a lot of character and maybe more importantly — the ability to deliver a performance upon what Brandt envisioned from time he was assembling this roster back in the early part of the off season.
Despite surrendering an early goal, they held a solid defensive shape, won enough possession in the middle to create quick strike goal opportunities, and by the end of the match, they looked like the stronger of the two teams.
One of the lowest scoring outfits in USL a year ago, the Riverhounds have now scored five goals in three games. They’ve had four tallies after trailing by a goal, and have mounted a come-from-behind win.
While Brandt would probably prefer to take a lead at some point before the 90th minute in one of these games, it’s a start to the season that has to please the Hounds coaching staff, players and fans alike.
The dynamic of the game really changed for me in the 57th minute when Banjo was introduced up front to partner Hertzog. Kerr dropped back into midfield and got more touches on the ball and could influence the game more. Both full backs came to life and got up and down the respective touchlines. By doing that Charleston got stretched and Pittsburgh opened up the channels between the full backs and central defenders, which created more space for the forwards to run into and receive through balls. It’s a big pitch at MUHC Stadium and you need to utilize every blade of grass. Pittsburgh definitely need the size of a Banjo up top and the team can get more out of Kerr in that midfield role, much in the way Vincent contributed in 2015.
The Hounds have a busy schedule this week with a quick turn around on Wednesday. They return home to take on a surprisingly hot St. Louis. Of note former Riverhound and Golden Boot winner Jose Angulo will be returning to Highmark Stadium. Kick off is at 7 pm. Tailgate starts whenever you get off work.