PITTSBURGH (Aug. 20, 2022) — A two-goal lead slipped away from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and the team was held to a 2-2 draw by the visiting New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 5,072 at Highmark Stadium.
Robbie Mertz and Mekeil Williams scored to give the Hounds (13-7-5) a first-half lead. John Murphy scored just before halftime, and Wiki Carmona got the game-tying goal early in the second half for Red Bulls II (3-18-4).
The draw leaves the Hounds in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season.
The tempo of the game favored New York from the start, as an up-and-down contest saw both teams create chances. Possession favored New York slightly with 51 percent, while the Hounds had the edge in shots, 13-11.
The Hounds opened the scoring in the 21st minute with an excellent team move. Alex Dixon made his way down the right flank and crossed to the back post. Russell Cicerone got on the receiving end and laid a header backward to Mertz, who struck the half-volley for his first goal since rejoining the Hounds on a transfer from Atlanta last month.
Williams followed suit with his first goal in two seasons as a member of the Hounds in the 42nd minute. The center back rose to meet a Kenardo Forbes corner kick, and his downward header took a big bounce in the box before sliding just inside the far post.
But the momentum was stolen away by the Red Bulls two minutes later, when O’Vonte Mullings hit a low cross from the right that found Murphy near the penalty spot for a one-touch finish.
New York leveled the score in the 56th minute when Jordan Adebayo-Smith led the counter after a Hounds chance on the other end. Adebayo-Smith slid a pass to his left, where Carmona made his run and finished past charging goalkeeper Kevin Silva.
The Hounds continued to push forward with chances, including another corner kick that Williams headed on goal to force a reflex save by Red Bulls goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis.
New York nearly pulled ahead when Zach Ryan couldn’t keep a second-chance header down from close range. The Hounds nearly pulled off the win in stoppage time on two occasions — first when Edward Kizza broke in alone down the left but was stopped by Nikopolidis, and a minute later when Dixon hit the crossbar after a cross from the left found him alone on the back post.
Hounds Man of the Match
Mekeil Williams headed home his first USL Championship goal since 2019, and on a day when the Hounds struggled in possession, he was second on the team completing passes at a 76 percent clip, and he also added a pair of tackles won.
The Hounds head back on the road next Saturday when they face Atlanta United 2 (4-19-4), a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. The teams met in Pittsburgh back on April 23 in what was the Hounds’ biggest win this season, 4-0.
Riverhounds SC lineup (5-2-2-1) — Kevin Silva; Luke Biasi (Dani Rovira 72’), Mekeil Williams (Edward Kizza 71’), Arturo Ordóñez, Shane Wiedt, Alex Dixon; Danny Griffin, Kenardo Forbes; Russell Cicerone, Robbie Mertz; Dane Kelly (Albert Dikwa 71’)
New York Red Bulls II lineup (4-2-3-1) — Giannis Nikopolidis; Curtis Ofori (Arian Recinos 64’), Daniel De Leon (Lamine Conte 76’), Hassan Ndam, O’Vonte Mullings; Michael Knapp, Jesús Castellano; John Murphy, Wiki Carmona, Jordan Adebayo-Smith; Zach Ryan (Jonathan Filipe 69’)
PIT — Robbie Mertz 21’ (Russell Cicerone)
PIT — Mekeil Williams 42’ (Kenardo Forbes)
NY — John Murphy 44’ (O’Vonte Mullings)
NY — Wiki Carmona 56’ (Jordan Adebayo-Smith)
PIT — Arturo Ordóñez 19’ (caution – persistent infringement)
PIT — Mekeil Williams 32’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
NY — Daniel De Leon 74’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
NY — Arian Recinos 84’ (caution – unsporting behavior)