PITTSBURGH (May 14, 2022) — A second-half goal by Russell Cicerone and a late penalty save by Kevin Silva kept the perfect home record for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC intact with a 1-0 victory over El Paso Locomotive FC tonight at Highmark Stadium.
Cicerone scored his third of the season just 32 seconds into the second half, but the Hounds (7-2-1) weren’t out of the woods until Silva denied Luis Solignac, the leading scorer for El Paso (4-6-1), in the 90th minute.
With the win, the Hounds maintain their spot in second place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference. They are now 6-0-0 at home (5-0-0 in league matches) in 2022 and are unbeaten in their last 14 home matches dating back to last season.
Both teams showed some intent toward goal from the beginning. The Hounds finished with a 16-8 edge in shots, but the shots on goal tally was only 6-5 in the hosts’ favor.
Alex Dixon was active throughout the match, and he forced the game’s first save just three minutes into the game. His counterpart down the El Paso right flank, former Hounds player Christiano François, was equally dynamic and forced the first tough play from Silva with a curling cross that he had to catch just in front of his goal line.
The Hounds nearly broke through in the 30th minute from a corner kick, as Dane Kelly outmuscled his defender for a header and forced a reaction save from Evan Newton. The second attempt fell to Mekeil Williams, but Newton again made the stop for El Paso.
Nate Dossantos pressed Newton into action again with a well-struck volley in the 37th minute, and only a fingertip save denied him his first pro goal. And Dixon came close again just before halftime, beating Newton with a soft shot, only to be denied by the left post.
With the ball to start the half, the Hounds made the first possession count.
The team worked the ball down the right flank to Dixon, who got around his defender and send a cross through the box. The ball was just out of the reach of Kelly, but continued all the way through to a wide-open Cicerone, who had time to compose himself and finish into the roof of the net.
Cicerone would have a couple chances to double the lead just after the hour mark, but he was unable to hit the frame with a diving header at the back post or with a shot on his left foot after hesitating to make two sliding defenders miss. El Paso also had a chance to get on the board when Solignac pounced on a misplayed ball, but Arturo Ordóñez recovered back to avert a breakaway, and Solignac’s shot stayed wide of the post.
But the decisive play came in the waning minutes, when Silva came off his line to play a high ball and was whistled for a foul when he and an El Paso player collided.
Standing with his back to the supporters’ section, Silva dove low and to his right to deny Solignac, preserving the Hounds’ win and his second consecutive clean sheet.
Hounds Man of the Match
Kevin Silva, for the obvious big play at the end, gets the honor. He set a new season-high with five saves in the match and recorded his third shutout as a member of the Hounds.
The Hounds go back on the road next Saturday to face one of their fellow preseason favorites out of the East, the Tampa Bay Rowdies (3-3-4), at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rowdies also have a match to play tomorrow at Phoenix Rising FC.
Riverhounds SC lineup (4-2-3-1) — Kevin Silva; Nate Dossantos (Dani Rovira 61’), Mekeil Williams, Arturo Ordóñez, Shane Wiedt; Danny Griffin, Kenardo Forbes (Angelo Kelly 72’); Luis Argudo (Robby Dambrot 71’), Russell Cicerone (Jelani Peters 83’), Alex Dixon; Dane Kelly (Albert Dikwa 60’)
El Paso Locomotive FC lineup (4-5-1) — Evan Newton; Javier Monsalves, Eder Borelli (Nick Hinds 68’), Andrew Fox, Harry Brockbank (Shavon John-Brown 68); Dylan Mares, Eric Calvillo (Louis Herrera 80’), Richie Ryan (Joel Maldonado 90+4’, Christiano François (Ricardo Zacarias 80’), Aaron Gomez; Luis Solignac
PIT — Russell Cicerone 46’ (Alex Dixon)
PIT — Arturo Ordóñez 27’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Nate Dossantos 43’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Albert Dikwa 89’ (caution – dissent)