(Oct. 23, 2022) — Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC booked its place in the conference semifinals in the most dramatic of fashion, as the Hounds outlasted Birmingham Legion FC on penalty kicks, 8-7, after twice coming from behind for 2-2 draw after 120 minutes in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.
Edward Kizza scored both goals for the fifth-seeded Hounds and converted the winning penalty on the 10th kick of the shootout. Goalkeeper Jahmali Waite was outstanding with a career-high seven saves during the match and an additional three stops in the shootout.
It was only the second time the Hounds have advanced from a shootout in club history, the first coming in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup. The team is 2-3 in kicks from the penalty mark all-time.
The Hounds advance to face top-seeded Louisville City FC in the semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
Birmingham had more chances throughout the game, outshooting the Hounds by a 22-7 margin, but Robbie Mertz nearly had the Hounds ahead early in the game. The Pittsburgh native beat defender Phanuel Kavita off the dribble, but Kavita got just enough of Mertz’s jersey to keep him from getting enough power on the shot to beat goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel.
Waite made two outstanding saves the first half, the first to deny Legion leading scorer Enzo Martínez when he got behind the defense for an angled shot, and the second to stop Jonathan Dean, whose low shot got around the Hounds wall on a free kick.
The Legion made the breakthrough in the 72nd minute on a set piece, as Juan Agudelo fed Prosper Kasim in the box, and Kasim lifted a header over Waite and into the far side of the net. That led the Hounds to turn to their attacking options on the bench, and Kizza answered the bell.
The former Pitt striker, on loan from the New England Revolution, entered the game in the 89th minute as the Hounds’ final substitute. A minute later, he was celebrating his second goal since joining the Hounds, and he headed in the tying goal on a cross from Mertz with just seconds remaining before stoppage time.
The Legion pulled back ahead nine minutes into the extra time period, as they forced a turnover from a Hounds throw-in, allowing Mikey Lopez to feed Bruno Lapa for an open shot 16 yards from goal.
Needing to tie the match once again, it was the substitutes who made it happen after Danny Griffin won the ball in midfield.
Griffin fed Marc Ybarra, who led William Eyang down the left flank with a well-weighted pass. Eyang hit a low, smartly placed cross through the top of the goal box, and Kizza was there to tap the ball into the open net.
Birmingham opted to substitute goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg into the match to replace Van Oekel, but at first it seemed like the move wouldn’t matter after Waite saved the Legion’s first two penalties. Spangenberg replied with critical stops on the fourth and fifth kicks to keep Birmingham in it, and the teams traded conversions on kicks six through nine.
Finally, on the 10th kick, Waite made his third stop on Grayson Dupont, and Kizza, the only field player yet to take a kick, stepped up to put home the winner. (Full shootout summary below.)
Hounds Man of the Match
While Kizza’s goalscoring heroics were vital, Jahmali Waite’s massive total of 10 saves between open play and the shootout were the difference in a game where the Hounds had fewer chances. It was the first-year pro’s biggest saves total, eclipsing the five he made in another 120-minute match, this year’s Open Cup loss to FC Cincinnati.
Riverhounds SC lineup (5-2-3) – Jahmali Waite; Dani Rovira (Jelani Peters 77’), Mekeil Williams (William Eyang 77’), Arturo Ordóñez, Shane Wiedt (Angelo Kelly 70’), Alex Dixon (Toby Sims 70’); Kenardo Forbes (Edward Kizza 89’), Danny Griffin; Russell Cicerone, Robbie Mertz (Marc Ybarra 107’), Albert Dikwa
Birmingham Legion FC lineup (4-2-3-1) — Matt Van Oekel (Trevor Spangenberg 120+1’); Jacob Rufe, Phanuel Kavita, Alex Crognale, Jonathan Dean; Zach Herivaux (Grayson Dupont 120+1’), Anderson Asiedu (Bruno Lapa 85’); Marlon Santos (Sadik Balarabe 70’), Enzo Martínez; Prosper Kasim (Mikey Lopez 80’); Juan Agudelo (Ryan James 85’)
BHM — Prosper Kasim 72’ (Juan Agudelo)
PIT — Edward Kizza 90’ (Robbie Mertz)
BHM — Bruno Lapa 99’ (Mikey Lopez)
PIT — Edward Kizza 116’ (William Eyang)
PIT — Shane Wiedt 57’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
BHM — Bruno Lapa 99’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Edward Kizza 120+9’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
Kicks from the Penalty Mark summary
BHM (Goalkeeper: Spangenberg) — Crognale (miss), Lapa (miss), Dean, James, Martínez, Balarabe, Rufe, Lopez, Kavita, Dupont (miss)
PIT (Goalkeeper: Waite) — Sims, Griffin, Dikwa, Cicerone (miss), Eyang (miss), Ybarra, Ordóñez, A.Kelly, Peters, Kizza