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What2Watch4: Bethlehem – 7/4

By Jake Santo, 07/03/19, 9:45AM EDT

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Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (5-2-7) is set to face in-state rival Bethlehem Steel FC (5-8-4) in an Independence Day showdown at 7 p.m. this Thursday night at Highmark Stadium. This will mark their second meeting this season, as the clubs earlier tied, 2-2, at Talen Energy Stadium.

Hounds on the Prowl

The Riverhounds come into Thursday’s matchup as one of the hottest teams in all of the USL Championship. Winners of three straight games, Pittsburgh has outscored its opponents 14-1 during the stretch, moving the Hounds into ninth place in the playoff bracket. Pittsburgh will need to continue its recent hot streak with the Fourth of July matchup against Bethlehem.

Bombs Bursting in Net

Forward Steevan Dos Santos has scored for the Riverhounds in all three matches during the winning streak. Midfielders Robbie Mertz and Thomas Vancaeyezeele have scored in two of the three matches during this stretch as well. As the Hounds add more players into the mix, it will be difficult to contain Pittsburgh forwards and midfielders down the pitch.

Bethlehem Inconsistency

Steel FC has had problems putting together long stretches of sustained success on the pitch this season. Bethlehem’s longest winning streak has been two games this year, coming in early April for the club. Collecting points in the standings has been a challenge for Bethlehem, losing eight of its 17 matches this season.

Last Year Is Not Forgotten

The Hounds have not forgotten what happened a season ago when Bethlehem defeated them in the first round of the USL Championship playoffs at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds were the higher-ranked seed in the playoff bracket, but fell in penalty kicks. Pittsburgh will attempt to avenge last year’s early-round exit and make a statement against Steel FC.

By the Numbers: 3-2-1

The Hounds hold a winning record of 3-2-1 on July 4 since hosting a game every season after they moved into Highmark Stadium in 2013. Last season, Pittsburgh captured a victory against North Carolina FC, 2-0, in front of an energized crowd along “The Mon.” Pittsburgh will look to grab a victory, improving its overall record in front of another exhilarated Independence Day crowd Thursday night.

Key to Victory: Goalkeeping

Pittsburgh goalkeeper Kyle Morton has only allowed one goal in the recent three-game winning streak. During this stretch, the West Chester, Pennsylvania native has posted 11 saves. If Morton’s and the defense’s trend continues, Pittsburgh fans will have an enjoyable night watching fireworks light up the sky after the match.