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GAMEDAY ROUNDUP: Hounds Clinch Playoff Spot, Defeat Hartford

By Staff, 09/12/20, 9:14PM EDT


Lefebvre ties record as Loudoun, Union II finish all square; Miami edges Atlanta, keeps playoff hopes alive

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC became the first team to book its place in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs, while Loudoun United FC goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre tied a Championship record as his side finished all square with the Philadelphia Union II in Saturday’s action in the Championship.


PITTSBURGH – The Hounds clinched a place in the playoffs and ran their lead at the top of Group F to nine points as they romped past the Athletic with Ryan James and Ropapa Mensah each finding the net twice at Highmark Stadium.

The Hounds took the lead through James in the 13th minute as a corner kick from the right was flicked on at the near post, allowing him to control near the penalty spot and fire a half-volley that found the bottom-left corner of the net. Robbie Mertz nearly added a second 13 minutes later as he cut into the penalty area from the right but sent his finish over the crossbar.

Less than a minute later, though, Mensah took advantage of a mix-up defensively for the Athletic as goalkeeper Parfait Mandanda and defender Kevin Politz almost collided after each hesitating to deal with a high ball over the top. The ball popped the way of Mensah, who finished into the open net for his first.

Anthony Velarde was then brought down in the penalty area five minutes before the halftime break, and the midfielder stepped up to convert from the spot with a shot to right corner as Mandanda went the opposite way. Then two minutes into the second half James got his second after another hesitation to clear in the Athletic penalty area saw the ball deflect his way, allowing James to calmly roll the ball into the net.

Mensah grabbed his second just past the hour-mark as Mertz just a through-ball perfectly to meet the Ghanaian’s cutting run in behind the defense, and Mensah clipped his finish over the advancing Mandanda to make it five. That proved the last notable action of the match, too, as the hosts comfortably saw out the remainder to claim another high-scoring win. Man of the Match

Ryan James, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – James had his second two-goal performance of the season against Hartford and also completed 53 of 62 passes and won 6 of 10 duels in the center of midfield.


LEESBURG, Va. – Loudoun finished the game with nine men, but an outstanding performance by goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre that saw him tie the Championship single-game record with 13 saves and a goal late in the first half allowed the hosts to take a point after going behind early against the Union II at Segra Field on Saturday night.

The Union II took the lead in the 10th minute as a sweeping free kick from the right by Jack McGlynn found Anges Bohui near the penalty spot for a header into the right side of the net. The visitors were then handed a man advantage three minutes later when Adam Lundegard was sent off for his second caution in the opening 13 minutes.

The hosts had a chance to level four minutes later, though, as Christian Sorto weaved past his marker but could only fire his shot from 12 yards straight at Union II goalkeeper Matt Freese. Philadelphia almost struck again eight minutes before halftime as Luis Flores hit the right post with a curling effort from the top of the penalty area, but despite being down a man the hosts continued to create chances and right before halftime one would pay off. A long pass over the top was won by Kairou Amoustapha in the right side of the penalty area, and while his initial shot was denied by Freese, Amoustapha stayed with the play and tucked the rebound home.

Bohui almost put the Union II back on top right before the break as he forced a diving save from Loudoun goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre, while Michael Gamble’s shot for United from just inside the penalty area in stoppage time was tipped over the crossbar by Freese. The visitors started to get a firmer hold on the game in the second half, however, and McGlynn was denied by a good stop inside the opening minute by Lefebvre.

Both Brandan Craig and Bohui also tested Lefebvre as the game passed the hour-mark still even, and with 25 minutes to go the Union II’s Axel Picazo was denied at the near post as he fired on goal after a good through-ball into the right side of the penalty area. Loudoun found a chance with nine minutes to go as Amoustapha fired a low shot to the near post from the left side of the penalty area that was saved by Freese, but even though the hosts were reduced to nine men when Gamble was sent off in second-half stoppage time, the game ended all square as Lefebvre held firm late on. Man of the Match

Simon Lefebvre, Loudoun United FC – Lefebvre tied a Championship record with 13 saves on the night to keep his side that played down a man for 77 minutes in the game to earn a point. 


KENNESAW, Ga. – Miguel Gonzalez kept Miami’s slim playoff hopes alive with a goal early in the second half as the visitors took victory against Atlanta United 2 at Fifth Third Stadium on Saturday night.

Miami struck first in the 20th minute as a long free kick by Tomas Granitto toward the bottom-left corner of the net was parried by Ben Lundgaard, but Romario Williams followed up to knock home the rebound. It took Atlanta only three minutes to respond, however, as Ajani Fortune was in the right place to receive an attempted clearance at the edge of the penalty area and fired home into the right corner of the net.

The visitors regained the lead four minutes after the halftime break, however, as off a corner from the left the ball bounced to just inside the top of the penalty area where Gonzalez first a first-time shot that found its way through a crowd of bodies into the left corner of the net.

Atlanta again almost responded quickly again as Jackson Conway hit a stretching volley off the crossbar from the top-right corner of the six-yard area, while Lloyd Sam went close for Miami in the 55th minute with a low shot from the right side of the penalty area that was parried away by Lundgaard. Miami had to hold on late for victory as Hassan Ndam closed down Coleman Gannon’s effort from 10 yards to send the effort behind for a corner. Then deep in stoppage time, Miami goalkeeper Mark Pais made a pair of saves to deny Amir Bashti and seal all three points for the visitors Man of the Match

Miguel Gonzalez, Miami FC – Gonzalez scored the game-winning goal and had three shots and one key pass overall while completing 27 of 32 passes in Miami’s crucial victory.

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