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Season openers a mixed bag through Hounds history

By Riverhounds Staff, 05/08/21, 5:00PM EDT

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The Hounds haven't shied away from a challenge coming out of the gates.

For the fourth time in six years, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC opens its season against the defending Eastern Conference Champion when they face the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium. 

Last season, in the inaugural match at Lynn Family Stadium, the Hounds defeated Louisville City FC, 3-1. In 2017, Pittsburgh tied reigning-champion New York Red Bulls II, 3-3, in its opening match. And in 2016, the Hounds fell short against Bob Lilley’s Rochester Rhinos, 1-0, at Highmark Stadium.

Saturday marks the second time Riverhounds SC will open a season against the Rowdies. The first time was two years ago, when the Rowdies defeated the Hounds, 2-0, at Al Lang Stadium. This year's match also marks the fourth straight season the Hounds will travel to open play.

Since 1999, the Hounds have earned at least one point in 14 of their 21 season openers, and they tallied at least one point in 4 of their first 5 season openers.

Looking back in history, Riverhounds SC played its first ever match at Bethel Park High School Stadium, its home from 1999-2003. The Hounds lost to the Cincinnati Riverhawks on penalties (all A-League matches that season were settled in a shootout) after a 2-2 draw in regulation.

The Hounds won their first season opener in 2001, defeating the Indiana Blast, 1-0, on a David Flavius goal, and they opened the 2002 season with a 2-1 win over the Toronto Lynx, both matches played at Bethel Park.

The Hounds didn’t play a season opener at Moon Area High School Stadium, its home venue for the 2004 season, but tied the Harrisburg City Islanders, 2-2, to start play in 2006 at Falconi Field. Remarkably, the Hounds didn’t play a season opener at Chartiers Valley High School Stadium, either, their field from 2008-12. 

The opening match at Highmark Stadium in 2013 actually wasn’t a season opener, but the Hounds won their first season opener at Highmark Stadium in 2015 against the Harrisburg City Islanders, 5-2, behind a hat-trick from Kevin Kerr. RIverhounds SC sports a 1-1-1 mark in season openers at Highmark Stadium.