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Tide Turns as Kerr Boosts Riverhounds

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 08/27/17, 11:16AM EDT

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Good fortune finally smiles on Scottish midfielder in victory vs. Steel FC


Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds

PITTSBURGH – As the ball caromed off the right post, spinning across the face of goal toward the opposite upright, Pittsburgh Riverhounds midfielder Kevin Kerr tried to get a read on the path it was taking.

His read proved correct. Despite a Bethlehem Steel FC defender reaching the ball first to try and make a desperate clearance, Kerr’s timing was perfect to account for the ball coming back off the left post, and he bundled his finish home for the winner in a vital 3-2 victory at Highmark Stadium.

“I kind of expected it to bounce off the post,” said Kerr. “I just gambled and some nights they drop for you. Tonight was a good night.”

More than a good night, Saturday was a win the Riverhounds needed to push their playoff hopes forward. After seeing breaks go the opposite way more often than not this season, Kerr’s goal was an indicator that things might finally have turned in their direction.

The Scottish midfielder, who had entered with only one goal and three assists on the season despite being tied for the league-lead with 47 key passes, certainly had his best night of the campaign, providing the assists on goals by Corey Hertzog and Jamal Jack that gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead within the opening 20 minutes.

Steel FC’s place in the postseason positions in the USL Eastern Conference didn’t come about by chance, though, and the visitors rallied back through a pair of goals by Jamaican international Corey Burke. His penalty kick four minutes before the halftime break was a key moment after Santi Moar had been brought down in the penalty area, giving Bethlehem some positive momentum into the break.

“I thought [after going] 2-0 [up] if we get one more this game’s over,” said Kerr. “And the second I thought that we gave away a crazy PK and made a game of it. Games swing on those moments and it was a crazy goal to give away.”

Four first-half yellow cards also led to the Riverhounds having to take a more measured approach against their Keystone State rivals. With 17 minutes to go, however, Burke struck again with an outstanding finish from the top of the penalty area to the right corner of the net past former Steel FC goalkeeper Matthew Perrella to level the score.

“We tried to tone it down, but you can’t go silent and go to sleep either,” said Riverhounds Head Coach Dave Brandt. “It was a tricky second half to handle.”


Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds

With a vital three points seemingly slipping away, though, the Riverhounds quickly responded. Hertzog’s cross from the left side found Chevaughn Walsh in the center, and while his header span off the right upright, Kerr read the situation to earn the side its third consecutive win.

“We needed to get three points tonight, so for Chevy to get up for the header and Kevin to put it away because Chevy didn't do quite enough, it was a huge goal and a typical Kevin play,” said Brandt.

The Riverhounds still sit marginally outside the playoff positions, despite the defeat Steel FC still holds the edge in total wins on 33 points, but that could change after the Riverhounds’ next outing. A visit to FC Cincinnati next Saturday night at Nippert Stadium brings a make-or-break contest for both teams, with seventh-place FCC holding a one-point edge with seven games to go in the regular season for both.

It’s a game that the Riverhounds are now looking forward to eagerly.

“We’ve been playing for a little while now,” said Kerr. “Harrisburg was a massive step forward. Everything kind of clicked in Harrisburg. I feel like we finish games real strong.”

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