Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC advanced to the Quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with victory against Columbus Crew SC before a club-record crowd of 6,107 fans at Highmark Stadium. | Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
PITTSBURGH – On Wednesday night, Pittsburgh was the Hounds’ Town.
A first-half goal by Albert Dikwa sent Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to a 1-0 victory against Columbus Crew SC and into the Quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time since 2001 as a club-record crowd of 6,107 fans packed Highmark Stadium for the club’s second consecutive victory against an opponent from Major League Soccer in the tournament.
The Hounds will face FC Cincinnati in the Quarterfinals on June 6 or 7 at TQL Stadium as they bid to continue the club's best run in the historic tournament.
Having defeated the New England Revolution in the prior round, the Hounds set up with a similar aggressive opening to try and disrupt their top-flight visitors. Setting a high line defensively as Columbus looked to play its way out of defense, the positive overall start led to the hosts grabbing the opening goal in the 22nd minute. A good midfield interception Arturo Ordonez sent the ball to Robbie Mertz, and the Pittsburgh native’s through-ball played Dikwa in behind the Crew defense before the USL Championship’s current leading goalscorer slid a calm finish into the right corner of the net.
Pittsburgh continued to manage the game well as Columbus began to assert itself a little more after the half-hour mark, with a deflected shot by Jacen Russell-Rowe that went wide of the left post and a wild shot by Jimmy Medranda offering little threat to Hounds goalkeeper Jahmali Waite as the hosts took their lead to the halftime break.
Columbus opened the second half positively as well, and Thomas Roberts forced a low save from Waite after a short corner on the left opened a shooting chance from 20 yards from the top of the penalty area. Waite had to be alert again with 25 minutes to go as he palmed away a shot by Russell-Rowe before gathering after a minor scramble in the box, but Pittsburgh overall limited the clear looks on goal the visitors were able to generate.
In fact, the Hounds began to regain some control over the flow of the game as it entered the final 20 minutes, snapping into challenges in midfield that broke up Columbus’ flow. With the crowd roaring them on, the hosts almost grabbed a second goal with 16 minutes to go when they forced a turnover in the attacking third through Nathan Dossantos, whose redirection of an attempted clearance came to Tola Showumni at the top of the six-yard area only for his first-time shot to flash over the crossbar.
The Hounds went close again with four minutes to go as Griffin stole possession as the Crew tried to emerge from their own end and fired a shot toward the left corner that was turned wide by Columbus goalkeeper Evan Bush. After a late chance was headed over by the Crew’s Gibran Rayo in the 90th minute, however, Pittsburgh was able to see out the remaining stoppage time and secure another historic victory.