Riverhounds (4-1-1) vs. Atlanta United 2 (2-5-0)
Date: Saturday, April 23
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Highmark Stadium
Odds: Hounds -250 / Draw +350 / Atlanta +550 (FanDuel)
TV: 22 The Point
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtag: #PITvATL
PITTSBURGH (April 23, 2022) — For the first time in 2022, the Riverhounds have to try and bounce back from a loss in USL Championship play (or a losing streak counting the extra time cup loss Tuesday to FC Cincinnati), and they will do so against Atlanta United 2 at 7 p.m. tonight at Highmark Stadium.
The good news for the Hounds is they are a perfect 3-0-0 in all competitions on their home turf this season. In fact, the team hasn’t lost at home since Aug. 11 of last season — a string of 11 matches with an 8-0-3 record — and has won 16 of its past 17 matches against MLS reserve sides.
Among each of those streaks is the last meeting between these two teams, a 4-1 Hounds win on Aug. 22, 2021. In that game, Russell Cicerone netted his first career hat trick on his way to a USL Championship Player of the Week honor, spoiling the return to Pittsburgh of Upper St. Clair grad Robbie Mertz and former Pitt defender Bryce Washington.
Washington now occupies a spot on Atlanta’s MLS roster, but Mertz has been the constant in the Atlanta 2 midfield, playing in every match this season the team’s captain. He is the veteran presence in a lineup that includes 20-year-old Jackson Conway, who leads the team with four goals and is already in his fifth season appearing in the USL after debuting with Atlanta as a 16-year-old Academy player.
For the Hounds, injuries are not a concern, but fatigue might be after road matches in Las Vegas and Cincinnati over the past seven days. Cicerone and Alex Dixon both played the full 120 minutes in the cup loss, and Danny Griffin and Arturo Ordóñez played all 210 minutes across the two matches.
On the other hand, the Hounds’ schedule is favorable with nothing but Saturday matches until the start of July, so head coach Bob Lilley will have to make a decision as to whether he rests players or rolls the dice with a potential 300-minute week for some before the players fall into a more comfortable week-to-week routine.
Also at stake — a win would ensure the Hounds remain in second place in the Eastern Conference, which would set up a juicy top-two matchup next weekend when the team goes back on the road to face first-place Louisville City FC, the last undefeated team remaining in the USL Championship.
The weather is expected to be the warmest all season for a Hounds match. Temperatures are forecast to be in the high 70s through the 7 p.m. kickoff, which should be welcome news for what is anticipated to be the largest crowd at Highmark Stadium thus far in 2022.
The Tailgate Zone starts rocking at 5 p.m. with music from TJ the DJ and food from Uncle Rick’s Smokehouse (barbeque) and Hoshi (hibachi). As always, Riverhounds Amber Lager by Straub will be on tap, though tomorrow is also the debut of the team’s exclusive beer in cans, both at the stadium and at beer distributors around the area. Assuming the good weather in the forecast holds true, the popular post-match autograph session with players on the field also will return after the match.