PITTSBURGH (July 13, 2019) - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (6-3-8) tied the Tampa Bay Rowdies (11-1-7), 1-1, Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
A penalty kick goal from Kevin Kerr got the Hounds on the board in the 52nd minute. Tampa Bay responded with a late tally from Lucky Mkosana in the 84th minute.
Kyle Morton manned the cage for Pittsburgh, finishing the night with two saves.
Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay were unable to convert on their first half chances, playing an even match in the first 45 minutes. The defensive matchup played out, with both team’s backlines holding each other to few on target shots.
The Riverhounds began their attack early in the first half coming from the foot of midfielder Robbie Mertz, with the shot dribbling into the box for the Tampa Bay goalkeeper. Kerr continued the offensive chances, with a long-range bomb from outside the penalty box in the 5th minute.
Morton was stellar in net for Pittsburgh, collecting two total saves including a shot from Tampa Bay’s Sebastián Guenzatti in the 34th minute.
Resulting from a corner kick in the 42nd minute, Riverhounds forward Steevan Dos Santos’ header from inside the six-yard box was knocked just over the crossbar by a streaking hand from Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy. McCarthy collected four total saves in the first half, including the shot from Dos Santos.
Both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay went into the break with no goals between the two sides. The Hounds out-possessed the Rowdies in the first 45 minutes, having the ball 60.4 percent of the time compared to the Rowdies’ 39.6 percent.
The Hounds opened up the second period of play with a penalty kick opportunity in the 52nd minute. Neco Brett drew contact in the penalty box, earning the chance for the Black and Gold.
Kerr took the penalty kick honors and bested Tampa Bay’s goalkeeper with a blast to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 advantage.
Tampa Bay struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The Rowdies subbed on Mkosana in the 66th minute in an effort to spark some scoring opportunities.
The Rowdies finally cracked the code in the 84th minute. Mkosana, who entered the match earlier in the half, danced through the Pittsburgh backline and fielded a cross before sending a shot past Morton to knot the score at 1-1.
Dos Santos fired a left-footed missile toward the goal just three minutes later, but the striker lofted the shot well over the cage.
Pittsburgh appeared to have one final go at goal as stoppage time ticked away, but a cross from Ryan James was unable to connect with a teammate, and ultimately drifted out of bounds.
Hound of the Match
Kevin Kerr gave his club an early advantage when he buried a penalty kick into the back of the net in the 52nd minute. The midfielder finished the evening with two shots.
Stat of the Game: 10
The Hounds’ defenders managed to slow down Tampa Bay’s high-powered attack by forcing a total of 10 interceptions on the night.
The Black and Gold will be back in action at home next weekend, hosting North Carolina FC at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Highmark Stadium. The match will mark WQED and Kindness Night.
Riverhounds SC - Kyle Morton - Ryan James, Tobi Adewole, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Joe Greenspan, Jordan Dover - Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz (Noah Franke 85'), Kevin Kerr (Mouhamed Dado 85') - Steevan Dos Santos, Neco Brett (Christian Volesky 73')
Subs not used: Austin Pack, Sammy Kahsai, Uchenna Uzo, Anthony Velarde
Tampa Bay Rowdies - John McCarthy - Leo Fernandes, Caleb Richards, Abdoulaye Diakité, Tarek Morad, Malik Johnson (Zach Steinberger 72') - Jordan Doherty (Kwadwo Poku 73'), Dominic Oduro - Juan Tejada, Sebastián Guenzatti, Leon Taylor (Lucky Mkosana 66')
Subs not used: Macklin Robinson, Shawn Berry, Mohamed Kone, Jaime Siaj
PIT - Kevin Kerr 52' (penalty)
TBR - Lucky Mkosana 84' (Kwadwo Poku)
TBR - Tarek Morad 13' (caution)
TBR - Abdoulaye Diakité 51' (caution)
Head coach Bob Lilley
On the possession battle between both sides...
"I don't think either team had much possession. We tried to, their tactics were to lump it long early. So we had to win the head balls and then pick up second balls, and when the ball is in the air so much it's hard to get in down in play. We competed better, we didn't expect them to be so direct but I think we handled in pretty well. We limited their opportunities all game."
On Tampa Bay's goal...
"Against a team like that, you have to try to find a second goal. I think we tried and unfortunately we didn't cover in the back. At that stage of the game, to let someone get in behind us is a pretty big mistake. It wasn't like we were pushed high up the field, it was just a simple ball over the top where the guy made a good run and we got caught flatfooted."
On giving up a late lead...
"I think we played well enough to get a result. We didn't have a lot of opportunities, neither did they. I know it was a tight affair. But one goal should hold up, especially when you're at home. We'll just go back, work hard this week and hopefully put ourselves in a position to win next week against North Carolina."
On the aerial play in the match...
"Some teams every time they get it will pump it long. If they try to play through us and they lose it, we can punish teams. Tactics are to pump it long. We have players that are good with the ball on the ground playing an aerial game. I don't think it helped [Tampa Bay's] performance, and they're in first place. Both teams would've had a better chance to win in some ways if a soccer game broke out. That's how games are sometimes. You may have that type of a game in playoffs sometimes."
Midfielder Kevin Kerr
On being able to get the ball to the front of the net more compared to Charlotte…
“I think Charlotte was a blip. The four-game prior we were flying and then Charlotte was a real disappointing performance. Today we got back on track. We looked to our usual selves, that was a really good Tampa team, obviously top of the league, and they gave us nothing you know.”
On the game being more aerial compared to ground play…
“I definitely feel they came into lockdown in the back and you could see it at the end of the game and they were at the end to the point. I think they would have taken it at the start of the game. Credit us, but we want to punish teams that come in like that.”
On what happened on the Tampa Bay goal…
“It didn’t feel like we gave up too much today. It’s one ball, and our three center backs have been fantastic for the last seven to eight games. They really found their rhythm. It was disappointing because especially they didn’t create much at all. At that point, I felt pretty safe with a 1-0 lead and we would see it out.”