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Gameday Report: August 12, Week 22

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 08/12/18, 7:14PM EDT

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Brett strikes twice as Hounds down Steel FC; Cincinnati strikes late to edge Penn


Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC took its third consecutive victory to move back into second place in the USL’s Eastern Conference with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Keystone State rival Bethlehem Steel FC at Goodman Stadium as Neco Brett’s recent upswing in form continued to carry the Hounds. Brett struck for both goals in the win on Sunday and now has five goals in his last three games to move into a tie for the league-lead with 13 goals alongside Louisville City FC’s Cameron Lancaster and Orange County SC’s Thomas Enevolsden with 12 games to go in Pittsburgh’s season.

2. FC Cincinnati was on the verge of having one of those days in front of goal against a resolute Penn FC side that put up a solid resistance throughout on Sunday evening, but then a big piece of good fortune handed the hosts all three points before a crowd of 24,249 at Nippert Stadium in a 1-0 win that saw the side stretch its undefeated run to 12 games. Emmanuel Ledesma’s 10th goal of the season, which took a wicked deflection off the top of a Penn defensive wall to find the left corner of the net, sent Cincinnati to victory, and one point ahead of Real Monarchs SLC in the race for the USL Regular Season Championship with 11 games remaining.

3. Bethlehem produced a sharp start to the second half after being held without an official shot in the first 45 minutes to find an equalizer against Pittsburgh, and maybe would have hoped to hold on for a point if not for a tremendous piece of opportunism by the Hounds' Christiano Francois that saw him capitalize on a lapse in the Steel FC midfield to set up a fast break for Brett’s second goal. With points still at a premium in Bethlehem’s bid for a return to the postseason the club’s trip to Canada over its next two outings are going to be big toward those efforts.

GAME REPORTS

TORONTO FC II (1), RICHMOND KICKERS (0)

TORONTO – Toronto FC II struck early in the second half as it took a 1-0 victory against the Richmond Kickers at BMO Field for it second victory of the 2018 season. Richmond had an early chance in the third minute as a cross by Brian Shriver found Luiz Fernando at the top of the six-yard area only for his volley to go high of the crossbar. Toronto’s first good chance arrived soon after as Liam Fraser forced a tipped save by Kickers goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg on a curling shot from 25 yards. Luca Uccello also went close for the hosts nine minutes before halftime as his close-range volley after a cross from the left by Kyle Bjornethun was inadvertently blocked by teammate Jordan Hamilton, but three minutes into the second half Hamilton put TFC II ahead as he lashed home a finish into the left corner off a good chipped pass over the top by Fraser. Richmond almost hit back with 13 minutes to go as Shriver broke into the penalty area and beat goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell with his finish only for TFC II defender Tim Kubel to track back and make a last-ditch clearance, and from there Toronto went on to close out the victory.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Liam Fraser, Toronto FC II
– Fraser helped the hosts control the midfield, winning 11 of 17 duels overall and completing 61 of 68 passes while providing the assist on Jordan Hamilton’s game-winning goal.

FC CINCINNATI (1), PENN FC (0)

CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati got a late winner to edge past Penn FC in a 1-0 win before a crowd of 24,249 at Nippert Stadium. Penn had a chance to take the lead in the 23rd minute when Isaac Osae found space on the right side of the penalty area but sent his finish well over the net. FCC’s first big chance came just before halftime as a corner kick by Emmanuel Ledesma from the left found Paddy Barrett at the far post for a good header that Penn goalkeeper Romuald Peiser just kept out of the right corner, and Peiser came up big again in the 56th minute to keep out Russell Cicerone on the rebound after Ledesma had rung the right post with a powerful strike from 25 yards. Cincinnati found the breakthrough with 10 minutes to go, however, as Ledesma’s free kick from 30 yards took a big deflection off the top of the defensive wall, leaving Peiser wrong-footed as it went into the left corner of the net and Penn was unable to respond with an equalizer in the closing stages.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Emmanuel Ledesma, FC Cincinnati
– Ledesma got a slice of good fortune on his game-winning goal, but had already hit the post and finished the game with four key passes as he looked dangerous when he got on the ball.

BETHLEHEM STEEL FC (1), PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC (2)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Neco Brett scored both goals as Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC took a 2-1 victory against Bethlehem Steel FC at Goodman Stadium and the Jamaican moved into a tie for the league-lead with 13 goals this season Bethlehem goalkeeper Jake McGuire came up with a big save in the 17th minute to deny a close-range chance for Pittsburgh’s Jordan Dover, but the Hounds took the lead 10 minutes before halftime as Brett fired home a low shot from the right side of the penalty area that caromed off the right post and in. Steel FC hit back seven minutes into the second half as a good counterattack released Chris Nanco, who drifted in from the left to the top of the penalty area and fired home a good low finish. The Hounds went close to regaining the lead just before the hour-mark as Christiano Francois’s curled finish to the top-right corner was tipped over by McGuire, while Santi Moar almost set up Nanco for a second for Steel FC soon after with a good weaving run into the left side of the penalty area. Steel FC threatened again on the counterattack as second-half substitutes Michee Ngalina slid in Brenden Aaronson at the top of the penalty area, but Hounds goalkeeper Dan Lynd came off his line quickly to snuff out the chance, but the Hounds regained the lead with 11 minutes to go as Brett scored his second as Francois sprang forward on a loose ball in midfield and sent a low pass that allowed the Jamaican to fire home into the right corner and that was enough to take all three points back to Pittsburgh.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Neco Brett, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
– Brett put home two clinical finishes, including the game-winner with 11 minutes to go, as the Hounds picked up three valuable points on the road.

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