Three games, three draws. It’s been a real up and down road trip and yet the Hounds came away with the same result each time. I kind of don’t know what to make of it. They played a match they probably should’ve lost, a match they definitely should’ve won, and a match that was fairly even. You could shuffle the matches around like a shell game to figure out which one is which. All I know is while this stretch of games hasn’t been flashy, the results are keeping them hanging around the playoff hunt; which at the end of the day is what we want.
The Hounds went up to Rochester and came home with a point. Something that they don’t have a lot of history of, so on it’s own it’s a nice result. In the context of the season though it’s another kind of frustrating one. This was the best the Hounds have played in a while despite what some of the stats may show. For the first time in a while the Hounds weren’t bunkering from the start. They were doing some fairly high pressing (past the midfield!) and quick to challenge whoever had the ball, often with two attackers. It was attractive to watch and a breath of fresh air. This is the style we thought we were going to see early in the season. The defense was solid and the midfield was having one of their best games this year, but it’s all squandered by the offense again.
It’s become very striking (ha!) over the last two games how in their desperation to get something going the offense has devolved into a bunch of individuals. Each guy trying to carry the team on their shoulder with a hopeful strike from outside the 18. It didn’t happen as much in Rochester as it did in Bethlehem, but you still saw it and it was just as frustrating to watch. It’s a bit of a catch 22 for them. We’re demanding results so they try to take it upon themselves to get them, but then here I am complaining about just that. To be sure the strikers are under a microscope right now, and Brandt is doing what he can to try to spark something. For the first time in a long time Hertzog started on the bench, while the youngsters Walsh and Banjo were given the keys to the car. The results were the same though. I’m obviously not a coach or a player, so what do I know, but with the offense struggling so much maybe they need to do a little self discovery. They don’t even need to go far. Just look at the eight guys behind them playing as a squad within their sections of the field, and not playing as individuals.
It’s tough love I know. I wish I could be jumping for joy over a draw against an always challenging Rochester, but I know the team can be better than this, and they need to be. We’re well past the point of having plenty of games in the future to figure things out. There’s only a baker’s dozen to go. We want this season to end strong and not be another squandered one. It needs to start now though. The Eastern Conference was really tight for a while there, but it’s starting to stretch out. The draws are keeping us around, but unless the Hounds string together a couple wins the playoffs are going to quickly get out of reach. The next two matches are tough ones against Charleston and Tampa. That said we’ve beaten both of these teams before. There’s no reason we can’t do it again.
The Hounds are back at home this Wednesday when the Charleston Battery come to town. Kick off is at 7 pm. Tailgate starts whenever the boss lets you off.
After the game the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Outlaws will be hosting a Gold Cup final watch party in the pub.