PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC extended its lead in Group F to six points with a 3-0 victory against Loudoun United FC on Tuesday night as the hosts struck early and late to extend their undefeated streak to four contests.
Following the opening minutes of the contest, between 7:00 and 8:46 of the match, players from both sides came together at the center circle, united against racism, and in support of equality, diversity and compassion.
In the game, the Hounds got out to an ideal start when they were awarded a penalty kick after Loudoun defender Shane Wiedt brought down Pittsburgh’s Mark Forrest in the area. Forrest stepped up and put home a shot to the left corner just past the outstretched dive of United goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre in the fourth minute.
Four minutes later, the Hounds were awarded another penalty kick when Anthony Velarde’s shot off a half-cleared cross came off the arm of Loudoun’s Elvis Amoh, sending the hosts to the spot again. Velarde went the same way as Forrest, sending Lefebvre the wrong way this time, to make it a two-goal lead.
The flurry of early penalty kicks continued in the 16th minute, only this time it was Loudoun that got the chance from the spot as Pittsburgh’s Jordan Dover brought down United’s Jacob Green in the penalty area. Loudoun’s Josh Fawole stepped up, but his shot to the right corner was saved by Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello to keep the visitors off the board.
The Hounds created the better chances for the remainder of the first half and almost added to their lead in the 21st minute when the ball came to Ropapa Mensah for a curling shot that just skimmed the top of the crossbar as it went over the top-left corner. The Ghanaian had another good chance on the half-hour mark as he intercepted an errant pass across midfield and sprang out on the counterattack, only for Lefebvre to make an excellent one-on-one save to deny him.
Lefebvre was called on again to make another important save five minutes before halftime when Pittsburgh’s Lukas Fernandes fired a low shot to the left corner from 25 yards that was parried wide. Then early in the second half United got its best chance from open play of the game as Alioune Ndour got in behind the defense but had his shot saved by Vitiello. Ted Ku-Dipietro tried to follow up on the rebound, but his shot hit Ndour, who was by then in an offside position.
Pittsburgh almost added a third 12 minutes into the second half when Dover showed off his quick feet to create space in the right side of the penalty area and deliver a chipped cross that Fernandes glanced wide of the left post with his header. The Hounds’ Thomas Vancaeyezeele also went close with 10 minutes to go with a flicked header off a corner from the left, but Lefebvre made a good reaction save.
The hosts put the game to bed with two minutes to go, however, as Albert Dikwa marked his debut for the club with a goal. Coming on as a halftime substitute, the Cameroonian outmuscled a defender after a long clearance upfield took a deflection toward the United goal and then finished coolly into the right corner to put a bow on the three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Mark Forrest, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Forrest earned and converted the Hounds’ opening penalty kick, had two key passes and completed 21 of 27 passes overall in a solid all-around display.