MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Alex Dixon had a goal and assist while Kenardo Forbes notched a pair of helpers as Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC took a 3-1 victory against the New York Red Bulls II on Friday night at MSU Soccer Park to move into top spot in the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division.
Looking for a third win against the Red Bulls II this season, the Hounds went close early as Shane Wiedt headed wide of the right post off a free kick from the left by Todd Wharton. New York then went even closer on a set piece of its own as Jeremy Rafanello curled a free kick from the left of center to the right corner that hit the upright and caromed away to safety in the ninth minute.
A minute later, though, the Hounds took the lead. Moving quickly in transition, Wharton found Forbes, who quickly delivered a pass into space for Dixon as he broke into the right channel. The veteran winger controlled as the defense recovered, but then cut centrally onto his left foot and fired home a finish to the left side of the net for his fifth goal against the Red Bulls II of his career.
Pittsburgh twice had chances to add to its lead inside the opening 20 minutes as first Russell Cicerone sent a shot on target from 20 yards that was saved by the Red Bulls II’s AJ Marcucci, then Forbes fired just wide of the left post from the right side of the penalty area.
The Red Bulls II hit back just before the half-hour mark, though, as a turnover in midfield was pushed upfield to Jake LaCava, who played Omar Sowe into the right side of the penalty area. Sowe was challenged by Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello as he came quickly off his line, but went wide and finished from a narrow angle for his third goal in the past three games.
The visitors thought they had regained the lead just before halftime as Dixon gained space on the right and delivered a near-post cross that Forbes turned home, only for the offside flag to be raised denying the goal. They then went close again early in the second half as Cicerone carved out space for a close-range shot that was saved, but in the 52nd minute the Hounds’ leading scorer this season made no mistake as he cleverly received a pass from Forbes to elude his defender at the top of the penalty area and finish for his seventh goal of the season.
New York almost hit back four minutes later as LaCava controlled a sharp through-ball by Florian Valot at the top of the penalty area but saw his low shot flicked wide of the left post by Vitiello, while Dixon then had a chance at a third for Pittsburgh only to pull his shot wide of the left post from the right side of the penalty area. Just past the hour-mark, though, Dixon sent a pass centrally from the right to Cicerone and then broke up the flank where Cicerone found him with a lifted pass behind the defense that Dixon delivered low for Albert Dikwa to tuck home from the top of the six-yard area.
Wharton threatened to add a fourth for the visitors with 19 minutes to go as he drove a well-struck shot from the top of the penalty area just wide of the left post after a half-cleared corner kick, but from there the Hounds patiently saw out their third win in the past four games, which moved them into first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time this season at the end of the night.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Alex Dixon, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Dixon scored for the second time in as many visits to MSU Soccer Park this season and also added an assist and three key passes overall while also making 13 recoveries and winning 7 of 11 duels.
PIT – Alex Dixon (Kenardo Forbes) 10’
NY – Omar Sowe (Jake LaCava) 28’
PIT – Russell Cicerone (Kenardo Forbes) 52’
PIT – Albert Dikwa (Alex Dixon) 62’