7PM – Highmark Stadium
Match Officials: as assigned by PRO:
REF: Mr. Matthew Franz
AR1: Mr. Ross Kleinstuber
AR2: Mr. Darth Newman
4TH: Mr. Maxwell Hartman
VAR: Mr. Geoff Gamble
The Morning Line, Via BET365
To start, let us go over a few oddities about tonight’s match that you may want to be aware of…
– This is the “USL Game of the Week” which means it is harder to watch online than every other match this season. It will not be available on the YouTubes, but rather via ESPN’s streaming service, the ESPN3s. If you don’t have cable or satellite access to ESPN, then you won’t be able to stream the match. Only in the USL can being part of the ‘Game of the Week’ actually make the product less accessible to fans.
– If you look up above at the list of officials, you’ll see a “VAR” official named. This match is Pittsburgh’s first and only contest (barring playoffs) that will utilize the ‘Video Assistant Referee’ experiment. For a more complete list of the details, check out the league’s 2017 VAR announcement. The basic premise is that the match referee will be able to consult video replay in coordination with the VAR official to better officiate goals, penalty awards, straight red cards, and misidentified players who are booked.
As for the match itself, we have a Pittsburgh squad who are coming off their first home victory of the season in dispatching a 10-man Harrisburg side and a Toronto team that is coming off three consecutive nil-nil matches. You read that right, TFCII’s last three matches have all been goal-less. Something will have to give, right?
The Hounds should be walking a little taller after Saturday’s 1-0 derby victory over the City Islanders. They took care of business and have put themselves in a position to starting a string of success as the fixture list turns towards the bottom half of the table. The win did come at a cost, as outside defender Richie Balchan has been lost for the season as he had surgery today for an Achilles injury that will sideline him for around six months. The question now is how Richie’s absence is covered in the starting XI. Does the answer come from inside the team with a younger player getting their opportunity to play, does it means moving some other pieces around that results in Kerr moving to the midfield and Hertzog and Banjo starting up top, or does the club look outside the organization for the solution? All are possibilities, plus other ideas we haven’t imagined. Joe Greenspan, who made the USL team of the week, is on a yearlong loan from Minnesota, but could be recalled by United this month, which would compound the situation. How this backline looks tonight will be interesting.
For Toronto, they haven’t scored and haven’t conceded in three matches. Overall on the season, they’ve only found the back of the net twice, and when they do allow goals, they allow a lot, with Orlando putting three past the Red and Tampa hanging four on them. They will also have to deal with the loss of a starter as forward, and team leading shot taker, Ben Spencer was signed by the parent club yesterday. They have the bodies to fill the gap, but for a team that hasn’t found the chemistry up top, making a change now probably won’t help their chances of making something click.
Can the Hounds start stacking some wins on top of each other and continue to win the games they should at home? Tonight would be a fine time for them to put on a professional 90 minutes off of three days rest then enjoy a 10 day break before playing in Ottawa.
Kickoff is at 7, and the tailgate starts as soon as the bossman pulls the birdie’s tail to punch out of work.