Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
PITTSBURGH – Neco Brett scored a hat trick as Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC took its first victory of the 2018 season with a 4-0 win against Toronto FC II at Highmark Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Hounds had chances in the first half but didn’t take the lead until the 52nd minute as Neco Brett latched onto a ball over the top and calmly finished under pressure into the right corner. Seven minutes later Brett made it two as he just stayed onside to receive a pass from Ben Zemanski just inside the penalty area before shooting low into the left corner from 15 yards, and the Jamaican completed his hat trick with seven minutes to go as he put home the rebound after Andy Lubahn’s initial shot came back off the left post. Brett added an assist with two minutes to go as Christiano Francois blasted home from the edge of the penalty area which wrapped up a comprehensive victory for the hosts.
52’ – PGH – Neco Brett (Thomas Vancaeyezeele)
59’ – PGH – Neco Brett (Ben Zemanski)
83’ – PGH – Neco Brett
88’ – PGH – Christiano Francois (Neco Brett)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Pittsburgh’s first goal of the season by Neco wasn’t a Goal of the Week contender, but the sense of relief it brought the side after a first half that produced scoring opportunities, but no final product gave the hosts a positive boost that it carried through to a first win of the regular season. It didn’t take long for Brett to add a second off a clever slipped pass by Ben Zemanski, and he then capped the display with a nice piece of hustle to polish off a rebound as Riverhounds SC got off and running in 2018.
2. Zemanski put in a solid, veteran performance for the Hounds, but his central midfield partner Mouhamed Dabo was outstanding in winning and distributing possession to keep Toronto from generating much through the middle of the field. Dabo made 17 possession recoveries, including six in Toronto’s half, won 11 tackles, and completed 40 of 47 passes as he showed the qualities that earned him a first call-up to the Ghanaian National Team last year.
3. With only one shot on goal for the game in stoppage time to test Riverhounds SC goalkeeper Kyle Morton, who made his first appearance of the season, Toronto lacked an incisive edge in the attacking third when it counted most. Part of the credit for that goes to Pittsburgh’s defense, which kept its shape well and broke up chances before they fully developed, but even the introduction of exciting Homegrown signing Ayo Akinola as a substitute failed to produce the attacking spark TFC II was looking for.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Neco Brett, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Brett was rewarded for a hard-working performance by a hat trick for the Hounds as the side claimed a comfortable victory.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Ottawa Fury FC – April 14, 7 p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium
Toronto FC II vs. North Carolina FC – April 18, 8 p.m. ET, BMO Field