Riverhounds (13-7-5) vs. Atlanta United 2 (4-19-4)
Date: Saturday, August 27
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Kennesaw, Ga.
Odds: Hounds -240 / Draw +360 / Atlanta +480 (FanDuel)
TV: 22 The Point
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtags: #ATLvPIT and #HOUNDTAHN
(Aug. 27, 2022) — The Hounds aim to regroup from a disappointing two-match homestand when they go back on the road to face Atlanta United 2 tonight in Kennesaw, Ga.
It is the second straight match — and the middle of a stretch of three matches in four — against an MLS reserve side, which historically bodes well for the Hounds. Even after letting a two-goal lead slip away last week in a 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls II, the Hounds have an impressive 18-1-1 record in their past 20 games against MLS “2” sides. The Hounds are also 4-0-2 all-time against Atlanta, with the last two matches being 4-0 wins, both in Pittsburgh.
This will be the first game against his old side for Robbie Mertz, who rejoined his hometown Hounds by way of a transfer last month after a season and a half with Atlanta. Mertz was Atlanta’s leader in assists during his tenure with the team, and he has been feeling his way out in the Pittsburgh lineup, recording an assist on his return debut in Hartford and scoring his first goal back with the Hounds last week against New York.
The game also begins a stretch of three matches in eight days for the Hounds, which will be the final time this season the team has to contend with a three-match “week.” Expect to see some fresh legs in the lineup both at Atlanta and again Wednesday vs. Charleston, particularly up front. Dane Kelly got the starting nod against New York, which means a fresh Albert Dikwa or possibly a first start for on-loan Edward Kizza could be in the cards as Bob Lilley tries to prime his team for the playoffs.
Speaking of the postseason, the Hounds’ “magic number” to clinch is 12 points either gained by the Hounds or dropped by eighth-place Tulsa, but of greater importance to Lilley is the three-point game to fourth-place Birmingham. The Hounds have a game in hand and still face the Legion next month, but shrinking the gap between now and Sept. 14 would go a long way toward bringing playoff soccer back to Highmark Stadium.
Atlanta, on the other hand, is already out of the playoff hunt, but has shown they still can pose danger to other teams. Though they are last in the USL Championship with 71 goals conceded, they nearer to the middle of the pack with 30 goals for, with 20-year-old Leeds, England native Jackson Conway leading the way with seven.
The match will be shown live on 22 The Point and streamed on ESPN+. For those in Pittsburgh who want to get out and catch the game with their fellow Hounds fans, Mike’s Beer Bar on the North Shore will be hosting the team’s official watch party, and new team President Jeff Garner will be in attendance to chat with fans and take in the match.