BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Edward Kizza scored the decisive goal in the 10th round of a penalty shootout to add to a two-goal performance after coming on as a late second-half substitute as Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC outlasted Birmingham Legion FC 8-7 in a shootout after the teams had played to a 2-2 final in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs presented by Hisense.
Before a Legion FC-record crowd of 10,277 fans at Protective Stadium, the Hounds appeared in control of the shootout after goalkeeper Jahmali Waite made saves on both of Legion FC’s opening two shots to give the visitors an early two-goal advantage. Goals by Jonathan Dean, Ryan James and Enzo Martinez kept Birmingham in the shootout but Russell Cicerone and William Eyang had the chance to close out the game for Pittsburgh in the fourth and fifth rounds only for both to be denied by Birmingham’s Trevor Spangenberg, to leave things tied 3-3 at the end of five shots.
Having rallied and shooting first, the contest appeared to have tilted back in Birmingham’s favor, but for each shot the hosts converted, they were matched by their Hounds counterparts over the next four rounds. Waite then stepped up again in the opening shot of Round 10 to deny local Birmingham product Grayson Dupont’s shot to the bottom-right corner, and Kizza kept his cool to send Spangenberg the opposite way and send the Hounds through in the second-longest penalty shootout in league history.
Kizza had previously kept the Hounds alive twice, scoring just 38 seconds after coming on to deliver a 90th-minute equalizer for the visitors after Legion FC had taken the lead midway through the second half through Prosper Kasim. Birmingham regained its advantage in the 99th minute when Mikey Lopez found Bruno Lapa for a first-time shot that picked out the left corner of the net, a finish that appeared set to send the hosts on as the Hounds struggled to find an answer in the attacking third.
But with four minutes to go in extra time – and on Pittsburgh’s first official shot of the additional 30 minutes – Kizza came through again. The visitors broke forward in attack before Marc Ybarra released Eyang on the left for a low cross through the top of the six-yard area that Kizza tapped home from close range to send the game to extra time – doubling his goalscoring tally from the regular season in the process.
Waite had come up with key saves prior to the shootout, too, as the Hounds had to withstand regular pressure from the hosts. Legion FC’s Martinez forced a big save out of Waite just before the half-hour mark, and he was called on again soon after as Jonathan Dean fired a low shot off a free kick from 30 yards the Hounds goalkeeper parried before his defense was able to clear the rebound, keeping the game scoreless at the break.
The first-year pro from Jamaica – who in September received his first call up to the Reggae Boyz senior team – then came through when his side needed him most in the shootout, giving Kizza the stage for one of the memorable substitute appearances in Championship Playoffs history.
USLChampionship.com Player of the Match
Edward Kizza, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – The Ugandan scored twice for the visitors before keeping his nerve from the spot to send the Hounds into the Eastern Conference Semifinals next weekend.
BHM – Prosper Kasim (Juan Agudelo) 72’
PIT – Edward Kizza (Robbie Mertz) 90’
BHM – Bruno Lapa (Mikey Lopez) 99’
PIT – Edward Kissa (William Eyang) 116’
Birmingham Legion FC – Alex Crognale, saved; Bruno Lapa, saved; Jonathan Dean, scored; Ryan James, scored; Enzo Martinez, scored; Sadik Balarabe, scored; Jake Rufe, scored; Mikey Lopez, scored; Phanuel Kavita, scored; Grayson Dupont, saved;
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Toby Sims, scored; Danny Griffin, scored; Albert Dikwa, scored; Russell Cicerone, saved; William Eyang, saved; Marc Ybarra, scored; Arturo Ordonez, scored; Angelo Kelly, scored; Jelani Peters, scored; Edward Kizza, scored