Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hounds Part Ways With Coach

After a disappointing start to the 2014 campaign, the Riverhounds have announced that Coach Justin Evans has been relieved of his duties.  The Peters Township native had just begun his fifth season at the helm after leading the Hounds to the playoffs in 2013.

Evans watches over warm-ups before the game against Charleston
The news of Evans' dismissal does not come as a huge surprise, given their recent struggles on the field. The Hounds sit at 0-4-3 on the season and have struggled to produce the offensive punch they showed last season.  Current Riverhounds player Nikola Katic will take over head coaching duties ahead of the teams road trip this weekend.

The team's leadership now sets forth trying to identify a new head coach all while dealing with Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.  Will the squad bounce back under new leadership or is this just another distraction piled on top of a disappointing season?  Will the Riverhounds look outside the organization for a new coach or put their faith in the untested and unproven Katic?  Katic has experience coaching at the academy level, but this will mark his first foray into coaching at the professional level.  Time will tell, but as a fan here is hoping that this change is for the best and the squad can get back to winning ways soon.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tailgating :: Speering Threads

Something new here on Good Run of Form.  Tailgating will be the section I use to talk about things not soccer related.  I'll use this space to talk about things that interest me outside of soccer: music, clothes, shoes, other sports.  You name it.  I've been given a platform, and I'm going to take advantage of it.

I want to take the opportunity in my first Tailgating post to shout out some good friends of mine.  They've worked incredibly hard over the past few years to bring their business idea to life.  What started out as two brothers shooting the breeze has spawned a business venture with huge potential. Enter: Speering Threads.

This is a great group of guys with a great product.  They've got big plans for the future, and I wish them nothing but the best.  So hit up their website and buy some ties.  Not only will you be supporting a good company, but you'll look good doing it, too.  It's a win-win situation for everybody.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Riverhounds Notch First Win of 2014

The Riverhounds triumphed over the New York Red Bulls U-23 squad on Wednesday night in the second round of the US Open Cup. The Hounds won by a score of 3-1 behind goals from Kerr, Angulo, and Vincent. The Riverhounds dominated much of the night, and were unfortunate to give up the loan Red Bulls goal on a suspect penalty call against center back Andrew Marshall. The Riverhounds now advance to the third round of the Open Cup to face Chicago amateur side RWB Adria on May 28 at Highmark Stadium.

This win could very well turn the tide for the Riverhounds as the defense appears to have found their footing; giving up only two goals in their last three outings. In the past few games, the offensive firepower that we saw early in the season had dried up. Jose Angulo's return to the team and the scoresheet should aid in that department. The team will look to build on a good overall performance as they host the Rochester Rhinos this Saturday in the final game of this home stand.  Kickoff at 7:00PM.  Be sure to come out and support your Hounds.  Unleash.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Riverhounds Look to Kick Start Season After Slow Start

The Hounds have gotten off to a slow start again this season, sitting on two points following two draws and two losses in their opening matches. Coach Evans and the Hounds will look to turn things around this Saturday against Charleston Battery.  
View from the sidelines: Pittsburgh skyline on display behind the scoreboard
The Riverhounds opened the season on March 29th at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando against the Lions of Orlando City SC. After a scoreless first half, Matt Dalmon and Jose Angulo hooked up once again on a 49th minute goal.  The lead didn’t last long, and the Hounds were hit with a double blow. Goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap suffered a head injury defending an Orlando corner. The referee allowed play to continue and the Lions leveled the score, putting the rebound in the back of the net.  Gilstrap left the game with a concussion and the Hounds left Orlando with a single point knowing that they were on the verge of an early season upset of this year’s title favorites.

The team faced another road game before returning home; this time facing Richmond Kickers on April 5th.  The game marked the return of new Riverhounds’ signing Joseph Ngwenya to the team with whom he won the 2013 league MVP honors.  The Hounds fell behind two goals to nil before former Netherlands international, Collins John brought them a goal back finishing a Ngwenya pass.  It was too little too late, however, as Richmond midfielder, Kyle Porter, added his second in stoppage time.
Coach Evans watches over the team's warm ups
The friendly confines of Highmark Stadium welcomed the Hounds back home on April 12th for the home opener against the Wilmington Hammerheads. The Steel Army and all in attendance, including a large contingent of Pitt and CMU students, were in full voice for the affair.  As the game kicked off, the Hounds maintained much of the early possession, but were unable to threaten the Hammerheads goal with much of the passing going sideways or backwards. In contrast Wilmington was able to capitalize on their chances and headed into halftime with a two-nil lead. 

Teams line up for the National Anthem at the home opener
The second half proved to be much more entertaining, with a flurry of action until the very end.  Jose Angulo pulled a goal back early in the second half, only to see Wilmington restore the two goal lead minutes later. Continuing to press, the Hounds again cut the lead to a single goal through Collins John.  Again, the squad was unable to find the equalizer and Wilmington extended the lead again to take a 4-2 advantage with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game.  The Riverhounds found a lifeline with 4 minutes of regular time remaining through substitute, Kevin Kerr. Highmark erupted just minutes later as Ngwenya tapped a loose ball in from close range, only for the goal to be called off by the linesman’s flag for offside.  The call was questionable at best as their appeared to be a defender at the far post holding Ngwenya onside and in protesting this point, Collins John provided the final flashpoint of the evening by receiving a red card following an altercation with the referee.  The referee blew the final whistle and the disappointed and frustrated Riverhounds dropped their second in a row.
The Steel Army unveils a Coach Evans/Mr. Burns tifo before the match
Richmond welcomed the Riverhounds once again on April 19th as the team looked for answers to their recent slump.  It seemed as though they had found the solution when Jhonny Arteaga slotted home a penalty in the 61st to give the visitors a two-nil lead.  In what the Riverhounds hope will not be a recurring theme all season, the defense capitulated and conceded two goals.  Once again the squad left Richmond disappointed and still searching for that elusive first win of the season.

Coach Evans and the rest of the staff will hope that the upcoming home stand will result in stauncher defending and their first win.  The Hounds face Charleston on Saturday at 6:00PM in a battle against the team that sits one point above them in the early season table.  Also, during the game the Hounds will unveil their third blue kit and will also sell t-shirts and raffle tickets in support of the Autism Speaks charity.  Come down to Highmark this Saturday and cheer on the Hounds! #Unleash

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Uncertainty Heading into Season Opener

The Riverhounds open their 2014 campaign this evening with a trip to Orlando to take on the defending league champs, Orlando City SC.  However, this trip has been overshadowed by the news that broke Thursday morning that the limited partnerships that own and operate both the Riverhounds and Highmark Stadium had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

All assurances have been given that the 2014 season will carry on unaffected.  New majority owner, Tuffy Shallenberger, will provide debtor in possession financing to continue operations.  Under Chapter 11, the owners have 120 days to restructure the organization and its debt before liquidation proceedings begin.  The Riverhounds have provided a list of FAQs for fans on their website.

While the short-term future remains bright, the shadow now cast over the long-term viability of the Riverhounds looms.  Hopefully, the players and staff can avoid this distraction and continue to build on last season's promising performance.

Recent roster additions of former Netherlands international Collins John and a trio of loan players from the Houston Dynamo have helped to strengthen the squad ahead of the season opener.  The key will be how fast the new additions can gel with the team on the field.  For those not making the trip to Orlando, the match can be streamed live on USLPro's YouTube channel.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Preseason Schedule Announced

The Riverhounds announced their full schedule of preseason scrimmages today.  The Hounds will play five tune-up matches at Highmark Stadium as they look to gain full match fitness and finalize the squad and tactics.  The first match is Monday, March 3rd, against Pitt's men's team at 7PM.  There is no charge for admission, so take advantage of this opportunity for a more intimate look at the squad.

More information can be found at the Riverhounds website.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Coming to Highmark? Consider These Matches

Highmark Stadium is a great experience, from the product on the field to the atmosphere to the view. You really won’t regret coming to any of the Riverhounds’ games this season.  If you are trying to decide which one to make the trip out for, though, consider one of my top five games of the season.

April 12 (Wilmington) – The home opener on 4/12 (I see what you did there, Riverhounds).  The Hounds open the summer schedule against the Wilmington Hammerheads.  Pittsburgh split last year’s series with the Hammerheads, with the home team winning each time.  Wilmington missed out on the final playoff spot by one point last season (only two behind Pittsburgh) after a late season run that saw them win their last 5.  They’ll be looking for a better start this year, so this sets up to be a feisty encounter.

May 9 (Orlando City) – The reigning champions travel to Pittsburgh on May 9th for the only time this season.  Last year Orlando City triumphed over Charlotte Eagles in the finals to take home the USL Pro championship.  The team’s leading scorer, Dom Dwyer, was recalled to Sporting KC, but they still boast a talented roster that will challenge for the title again.  Come out and see the last game against Orlando before they make the jump to MLS in 2015. 

June 11 (Harrisburg City) – Like Pittsburgh, Harrisburg City was eliminated in the first round of last year’s playoffs.  The two teams are intrastate rivals and play each other three times in June.  Depending on how the first meeting plays out on June 1st, this could be an interesting mid-week encounter.  Hopefully, the Hounds have two wins in their pocket when they travel to Harrisburg 3 days later.

July 4 (Rochester)  - Everyone knows that Pittsburgh rocks out when it comes to a fireworks show.  What better place to catch a famous Zambelli production than from the midfield of the Highmark Stadium pitch? Spectators are invited to join the players on the field for an autograph session following the match and stick around for the fireworks.  The game should be a good one, too.  Rochester is looking to bounce back this season after missing out on the playoffs last season for the first time in the team’s history.

August 2 (Los Angeles) – LA Galaxy II represents the first time an MLS team has fielded a full reserve squad in the league.  Coached by former Kansas City Wizards and DC United head coach, Curt Onalfo, Galaxy II gives players a chance to continue to develop in the years between leaving the academy and making a full first-team debut in MLS.  This is a good chance to come out and see some potential MLS future stars and cheer on the squad as they enter the home stretch of the season and make the final push for the playoffs.

Bonus Games

I decided I couldn’t just leave my list to five, so I’ve included two bonus games for your consideration as well.

TBD (Internationl Friendly) – Last summer the Riverhounds welcomed English FA Cup Champions, Wigan Athletic, to town for an exhibition match.  As an added bonus fans were able to take their pictures with the FA Cup at the game as well.  While an opponent and a date has not been announced, yet, there will be another European opponent in town for a friendly again this summer.  Keep an eye on this space for more information on this match as it becomes available.

September 6 (Phoenix) – This is the squad’s last game of the regular season.  Hopefully a playoff spot is already cemented, and this game only serves to improve our seeding.  Phoenix FC struggled throughout last season, finishing second to last above Antigua Barracuda with 22 points.  Even if the game means nothing when the time comes, you can be sure that the team will appreciate the support as we send them off on, ideally, another playoff run. 

Check out the full season schedule at the Riverhounds website.