Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC hosts its home opener on Friday night, welcoming Miami FC to Highmark Stadium. | Photo courtesy Jacob Rhodes / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
After making a bright start to the 2023 USL Championship season on the road, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC welcomes a fellow playoff side from last season for its home opener on Friday night. The contest kicks off a two-game slate of action that also sees Rio Grande Valley FC and Monterey Bay both looking to make a statement in the Western Conference.
Here’s a look ahead to all the action.
Venue: Highmark Stadium
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: PIT 43%, MIA 28%, Draw 29%
The Lowdown: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will look for a second consecutive home opener victory as it plays host to a Miami FC side still in search of its first win of the season as it hits the road for the first time at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds have made a strong start to the new campaign with four points from their opening two games after a 3-1 victory on the road last Saturday against Memphis 901 FC. Albert Dikwa scored the first hat trick of his career to lead the team to victory, earning Player of the Week honors in the process. The Hounds will try to build on that success as it hosts a Miami FC side that was among the strongest road teams in the league last season. Miami took 10 of its 15 victories on the road in 2022, a key part of earning a second consecutive playoff berth, but the side has earned only one point from its opening two games – both at home – this season after a 1-0 defeat to New Mexico United last Saturday night. Miami was unsuccessful in its last visit to Highmark Stadium, however, as the Hounds took a 4-1 win when the teams late met on the banks of the Monongahela river.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Christian Garner: The first-year pro could make his first start between the sticks for the Hounds on Friday night with Jahmali Waite away on international duty with Jamaica this week.
Miami FC – Joaquin Rivas: The veteran forward is looking for his first goal or assist of the new season and has recorded only one chance created and one shot on target so far this season.
Venue: H-E-B Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
538.com Predictor: RGV 52%, MB 21%, Draw 27%
The Lowdown: Rio Grande Valley FC will go in search of its first win of the season as it plays host to Monterey Bay F.C. on Friday night to close a three-game homestand to open the campaign at H-E-B Park. The Toros played to a second consecutive 1-1 draw last Sunday night as it conceded a late equalizer to Oakland Roots SC after Jonathan Ricketts had given the side an early lead. RGVFC delivered a second consecutive solid performance but has yet to fire consistently in front of goal through two games, with the side sitting in the middle of the pack averaging four shots on target per game. Monterey Bay, meanwhile, is looking to rebound from its first setback of the season last Saturday night to Eastern Conference title holder Louisville City FC. Monterey Bay fell 1-0 as it was unable to find a way through despite playing up a man for the final 20 minutes. The visitors will be hoping for a more successful return to H-E-B Park than their first visit, which saw the Toros score early through Jose Francisco Torres and roll to a 4-1 victory when they last met. With the former United States Men’s National Team midfielder still a key part of the RGVFC midfield, the hosts will be hoping for a similar outcome as they look to kick their season into gear.
Rio Grande Valley FC – Wilmer Cabrera Jr.: The young forward has looked bright in its first two starts of the season and will be keen to get off the mark against an experienced Monterey Bay defense.
Monterey Bay F.C. – Max Glasser: The first-year pro has been a solid contributor on the left side of defense for Monterey Bay in his first two starts, notching one assist and two chances created.