Photo courtesy Chris Cowger/Pittsburgh Riverhounds
With more wins, more draws, and fewer losses, in numerous ways it was a positive season for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. But where it counted in the Eastern Conference standings there was no change, as the Riverhounds finished 13th to miss out on appearing in the USL Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season.
With a large influx of players coming into the side in 2017, the side struggled to fully gel, with consistency hard to come by throughout the season. The Riverhounds only managed consecutive wins twice in the season, each time recording a three-game winning streak, but the extended spells without a win that surrounded those upturns in form left the club off the pace of the playoff contenders down the stretch and eight points adrift of the top eight at the end of the season.
Record: 8-12-12, 36pts
Place: 13th in the Western Conference
Goals For: 33
Goals Against: 42
USL Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
2017 leaders: Corey Hertzog (14 goals), Kevin Kerr (5 assists), Trey Mitchell (46 saves)
Corey Hertzog was a bright note in what was at times a dark season, scoring 14 goals in the season, leading the club and earning a place on the USL All-League Second Team for a second consecutive season. On top of Hertzog, the return to the club of Romeo Parkes proved to add some attacking threat for the Riverhounds this year, and at times throughout the year it seemed it would work and the side would make the playoffs. While those efforts came up short, there were encouraging signs there looking ahead to 2018, including winning the Keystone Derby Cup over the Harrisburg City Islanders while not conceding a goal.
The Riverhounds were firmly in the playoff picture as the club entered September, but a seven-game winless streak to end the season saw the side slide out of contention. Road defeats against fellow playoff contenders Bethlehem Steel FC and the New York Red Bulls II proved fatal blows to the side as it slid down the standings and missed out on the postseason.
Short corners don’t always pay off but it certainly did for the Riverhounds against the Charleston Battery at Highmark Stadium as leading scorer Corey Hertzog played it short and then received the ball back, moved around the edge of the penalty area and hit a phenomenal curling strike that perfectly found the far post, bouncing it in off the woodwork.
Keasel Broome was at the top of his game late against the Tampa Bay Rowdies as he first parried a fierce shot by Keith Savage, and then recovered in time to deny rebound opportunities for Georgi Hristov and Tam Mkandawire to preserve the shutout victory.