at Memphis 901 FC (0-0-0)
Date: Saturday, March 12
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: AutoZone Park, Memphis, Tenn.
Odds: Memphis +120 / Draw +235 / Hounds +180 (BetRivers.com)
TV: 22 The Point
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtag: #MEMvPIT
PITTSBURGH (March 12, 2022) — Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC begins its fifth season under the leadership of head coach Bob Lilley when it travels to face Memphis 901 FC in the USL Championship season opener for both teams.
The game is a matchup of playoff qualifiers from a year ago. The Hounds finished 17-8-7 to finish third in the Atlantic Division, while Memphis was third in the Central Division with a 14-10-8 mark.
There isn’t much history to draw upon between the teams, as the only two meetings came in Memphis’ expansion season of 2019. The Hounds took a 4-0 win in Pittsburgh and then won a 1-0 match in Memphis, which was actually the second attempt to play the match after the original game was abandoned because of rain.
For the Hounds, it is the fifth consecutive season they have opened on the road. Those games have yielded mixed results: two losses at Tampa Bay in 2021 and 2019, a win at Louisville in 2020, and a scoreless 2018 draw at Nashville in Lilley’s first game in charge at the club.
This time around, the Hounds will be looking for a more offensively fruitful opener in Tennessee, and if preseason returns are any indication, the team is equipped for the task. The Hounds scored 20 goals in six preseason matches while going 5-0-1, which included a 2-0-1 mark against fellow USL Championship opponents. Dane Kelly, bidding to become the first player to score 100 goals in the Championship with his first Pittsburgh tally, led the Hounds with four goals in exhibition play, and 2021 top scorer Russell Cicerone added three preseason goals of his own.
Memphis, on the other hand, faces the task of replacing 20-goal scorer Kyle Murphy, who signed as a free agent with Miami FC in the offseason. Their big offseason pickup lacks the experience of Kelly, but Irish midfielder Aaron Molloy was a finalist for USL League One MVP and now brings his talent a division higher on the ladder. The team does have stability in leadership, however, as coach Ben Pirmann returns for his second full season after ascending from a 2020 interim tag to lead the team to its first-ever playoff berth a year ago.
Game time conditions are expected to be breezy with temperatures near freezing, which shouldn’t come as much of a shock to the Hounds after a mostly frigid preseason at home. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., making it part of the first wave of Opening Night games; only the 6 p.m. Indy Eleven at Loudoun United FC match starts earlier.
The game can be viewed locally on 22 The Point or streamed via ESPN+. Fans can also join to watch at the official Watch Party home of the Hounds, Mike’s Beer Bar on the North Shore. The festivities at Mike’s Beer Bar begin with a pre-party at 6 p.m., featuring the unveiling of the new Riverhounds Lager by Straub, appearances by radio host Mark Madden and team owner Tuffy Shallenberger, as well as other surprises and opportunities to win Hounds prizes.