Off headers, right-footed blasts and from the penalty spot, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC has been lighting up the scoreboard.
The Hounds (2-1-2) have netted a combined four goals in their last two matches and hope to expand on that number this weekend, as they are scheduled to battle Saint Louis FC (4-1-1) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
Hounds midfielder Noah Franke credits the team’s training regime for the increased production on the offensive side of the field.
“Everything we’re doing in training is working toward that,” Franke said. “We have a lot of depth. We have a lot of guys that can come off the bench and give us a spark when we need it.”
Franke, who played 14 minutes in last weekend’s win over Hartford, noted the team is finally playing how they like to play up top. Now that the Hounds have found their groove, it’s opened up more offensive opportunities.
“We’re super dynamic, nobody is ever really standing still,” the midfielder said. “We know that as soon as we look up we always have options. We always have guys running forward and guys checking too. It’s just putting a lot of trust in the guys, and we’ve all been working toward that.”
While the club has been scoring more goals than they were to open the 2019 campaign, they are also giving up fewer than they were at the start. The backline has limited the opposition to just one goal in the team’s last two games.
Defender Tobi Adewole believes the effort on the defensive side of the field has also played a role in the increased offensive production.
“We’re getting there, slowly but surely,” Adewole said. “We had a problem with keeping leads, but a big part of offense starts with the defense. A lot of it is on us to keep the clean sheet and give our guys a chance to get the ball into the back of the net.
“When they do, we keep it clean back there or limit the amount of goals we give up. As the season goes on, we’re going to be clicking more up top and you’re going to see more goals. Right now, we’re getting our move and trying to keep the ball rolling.”
Now, the biggest challenge for the Black and Gold is to continue that success. With Saint Louis FC – one of the Eastern Conference’s top defensive teams – coming to Highmark Stadium, both Franke and Adewole recognize that won’t be easy.
The duo stressed the importance of keeping their foot on the gas and doing anything they can to carry this momentum forward.
“This is a big team,” Adewole said about Saint Louis FC. “We’re going to be going in with the same focus we had in the last game and every game. It’s the same mentality. Keep a clean sheet and get more goals than them on the scoreboard. Come out there and get a win.”
Franke mentioned while the focus will be on Saint Louis come Saturday night, the Hounds will place a bigger emphasis on themselves in this week’s practices.
“They’re going to be a really tough opponent, they’re on a good run too,” Franke said. “We’re just going to buckle down and focus on ourselves. We know how they like to play, but we’re just going to focus on ourselves and keep doing what we’re doing.”