Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC was out of its normal element this past Tuesday, as it traveled to Columbus, Ohio to take on Columbus Crew SC of MLS. The Hounds were defeated 1-0 as part of fourth round action of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
This was the first time the two teams had met each other in an official matchup. During the recent weeks, including games during the U.S. Open Cup, several of the younger Hounds were receiving more playing time from head coach Bob Lilley.
“Like coach always says, everyone has to be ready,” midfielder Noah Franke said. “Everyone knows that Bob is not a guy who sticks to his 11 and that’s it for the whole season. Everyone knows they will get their chance when it comes. Mine has been coming more recently, so I have been taking that.”
Defender Dani Rovira also has made consecutive starts in league games, and three straight starts if including Tuesday’s Open Cup match, in part of the absence of defender Jordan Dover. Dover is competing in the Concacaf Gold Cup with the Guyana National Team.
“Since I got here, [Dover] is one of the guys always has preached to me about little things to fix, to add, to just be more comfortable on the ball because at the end of the day, my goal is to help the team,” Rovira said. “As much as he does it for the team, I’m trying to do my job for the team. It’s hard to get used to. It’s fun to be in the lineup and traveling. Every game is another opportunity, just enjoying it and making the most of it.”
With less experience on the field, some of the younger players will need to become more comfortable playing consistent minutes for the Hounds. Franke will look to use his second-year experience to upgrade his game.
“Last year was my rookie year, and I was just getting my feet wet,” Franke said. “Also, just diving in the deep end really and not knowing what to expect. I signed really late, so it took me a while to get adjusted to the professional lifestyle and level of play.”
The younger Hounds will have a test this weekend against Atlanta United 2 on the road. While Atlanta may be ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings, it is only due to tiebreaker criteria as both teams sit at 13 points.
“We have been working better and better every game,” Rovira said. “I think we just need to close the game the right way and support each other. Be as a team. And get that win as it should be.”
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (2-2-7) will take on Atlanta United 2 (3-6-4) this Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and can watched live on Pittsburgh’s CW.