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THE MORNING TEA – The Hounds’ Captain and Commander

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/22/20, 7:30AM EDT


This could be the best Indy Eleven team in club history; What’s driven the feud between New Mexico, Phoenix



There are some truly great midfielders in the USL Championship right now. But as we’ve seen in the start to the 2020 season, there’s still only one Kenardo Forbes.

“He’s just a special player,” said Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob Lilley on Monday to reporters. “He’s comfortable playing deep because he likes to set the game for his teammates, but he’s also one of those players that he’s making the right decisions at the right time, and his awareness of space and where we’re going to be effective, a lot of the time he’s making those decisions.

“Sometimes I’m picking up something and relaying it, and he’s very good at doing those things, but a lot of the time he does it with feel, and I trust him as a player to solve problems out there on the field.”

Forbes’ ability to orchestrate has been in evidence since he first arrived in the Championship five years ago on Lilley’s Rochester Rhinos. In the time since, he’s become one of the most respected players in the league, earning All-League honors three times while racking up bigger and bigger numbers each year.

Now, the Jamaican is on the verge of becoming the Championship’s all-time leader in regular season assists, with his three-helper game on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union II – just the 18th such performance in league history – putting him on 35 assists for his career. That puts him alongside former Charlotte legend Jorge Herrera and only two back of Maikel Chang as the Hounds get ready to host Indy Eleven on Wednesday night on ESPN2 in the club’s 2020 opener at Highmark Stadium.

As his first lieutenant on the field, Lilley is certainly happy to have one of the best in the Championship marshalling the squad.

“I see him talking more on the field now,” said Lilley. “Rather than just be a quiet leader, he’s also able to vocalize certain things that need to be done with players around him, and it’s a big help, especially when you have a lot of turnover in your roster to have a player in your roster who knows what you want as a coach and is able to make those players around him better because he’s constantly playing well, but also helping guys around him make the right decisions and giving them the information they need to be successful.”



Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Indy Eleven

Group F

6:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: Highmark Stadium Predictor: PIT Wins 38% | Draw 25% | IND Wins 34%
Group E
The Gist: Two teams that have made an outstanding start to the resumption of the 2020 season meet in a massive game on national television when the Hounds welcome the Eleven to Highmark Stadium for their home opener. Pittsburgh has taken back-to-back wins on the road to begin its campaign, including a 6-0 romp against the Philadelphia Union II that saw Kenardo Forbes notch three assists and Steevan Dos Santos score twice late as he makes his way back from injury. The hosts will get a sterner test from an Indy side that has won three consecutive games to start its year, with Tyler Pasher leading the league with four goals. Whoever you’re a fan of, you really ought to turn into this one.

Philadelphia Union II vs. New York Red Bulls II

Group F

7:30 p.m. ET |
Venue: Subaru Park Predictor: PHI Wins 27% | Draw 25% | NY Wins 47%
Group F
The Gist: The Red Bulls II are looking to get into the win column for the first time this season when they visit the Union II on Wednesday, having not only suffered defeat in their opening two games of the season, but been held scoreless as well. The issue for New York hasn’t necessarily been its play, but its final execution. The Red Bulls II have recorded 31 shots and 21 chances created in two games but have only put five shots on target. They’ll get a chance to change that against a Union II side that is looking to rebound from a 6-0 defeat at home to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night.

OKC Energy FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC

Group D

8:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: Taft Stadium Predictor: OKC Wins 59% | Draw 24% | RGV Wins 17%
Group D
The Gist: Energy FC will try to pick up its first home win of the season at the third time of asking when it welcomes the Toros to Taft Stadium, but has some positive momentum behind it after victory on the road last time out. Jaime Chavez had a goal and assist in OKC’s 3-1 victory against Austin Bold FC that moved the side to the top of Group D in the early going. RGVFC is almost coming off a positive result after Taiberson’s goal secured a 1-1 draw at home to San Antonio FC on Sunday and the Toros will be looking to gain ground after picking up their first point of the campaign with a similar energy that they showed late on last time out.




- Hosts Kelsi Steele and Scott Stewart broke down Week 4 in the Championship on the newest Steele Some Time, and have a question; who is actually a threat this season? Plus, a great interview with Austin Bold FC's Amobi Okugo, whose off-field work is as interesting as his on-field work is great.

- Indy Eleven is out to a 3-0-0 start to the season, has won its last 11 home regular season games dating back to 2019, and is on a 28-game home undefeated streak overall. So, the Indianapolis Star’s Kevin Johnston asks, is this Eleven side the best the club has fielded in its history?

- There won’t be fans in the stands at Highmark Stadium on Wednesday night, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s John McGonigal writes Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC is still looking forward to welcoming national television cameras for its high-profile clash with Indy Eleven on ESPN2 as the buzz continues to grow around the club in the Steel City.

- OKC Energy FC used two systems and 20 players in its first two games back in action against FC Tulsa and Austin Bold FC. Head Coach John Pascarella was pleased with what he saw ahead of tonight's game with Rio Grande Valley FC, and the potential for his side's depth to carry it to the postseason.

- The rivalry between Phoenix Rising FC and New Mexico United is only technically three games old, but the passionate fanbases and nature of those three meetings – including one in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – has quickly brought the feud to a boil. Cronkite News’ Zachary Spiecker looked into the new Southwest battle.

- El Paso Locomotive FC will continue to play their home matches without fans, at least on Friday night when they host New Mexico United for the second time in as many weeks. Locomotive FC has played their first two matches of the USL Championship re-start without fans.

- Memphis 901 FC earned its first point of the regular season against Atlanta United 2 on Saturday night, but the Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Corinne S. Kennedy writes the side will need to be better as it welcomes the Charlotte Independence on Saturday at AutoZone Park.

- Sacramento Republic FC’s Rafael Jauregui made club history in Sunday’s victory against Reno 1868 FC, becoming the youngest player to appear in a Championship game for the club at the age of 15 years and seven months old. Indomitable City Soccer caught up with the youngster after Republic FC’s win.

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