PITTSBURGH (March 25, 2017) – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds (0-0-1) and defending league champion New York Red Bulls II (0-0-1) battled to a 3-3 draw in a back-and-forth affair that saw the Hounds three times overcome one-goal deficits.
Opening the 2017 season in front of 3,352 people at Highmark Stadium, the Hounds were buoyed by a two-goal performance from Corey Hertzog, as well as one goal from captain Kevin Kerr. Netting the tallies for New York was Vincent Bezecourt, also with two goals, and Florian Valot.
The pace of play was flying to open the match, as both clubs traded several chances resulting in a 1-1 score after 10 minutes. Pittsburgh had two near misses. In the second minute, Jack Thompson saw his shot from the center of the box miss high, and then in the fourth minute, Hertzog had a go from distance that missed right of the goal.
New York would not miss, converting on its first serious threat in the sixth minute, as Arun Basuljevic split the Hounds defense with a through-ball into the box to Valot for the eventual score.
The opposing squad’s lead was short lived, however, as Hertzog went full-highlight reel just minutes later. Receiving the ball on the end line from Taylor Washington, Hertzog eluded two defenders and goalkeeper Rafael Diaz in an incredible balancing act before slotting the ball home.
The next couple minutes followed a similar theme with Pittsburgh controlling possession, but New York being opportunistic.
In the 16th minute, Andrew Tinari flicked a useful ball to Bezecourt in space, who then fired a shot past a diving Keasel Broome to recapture a 2-1 lead.
Strong keeper play from Broome kept the deficit at one before a pretty run by defender Rich Balchan, making his Hounds debut, led to the first half equalizer in the 39th minute. Balchan, Marshall Hollingsworth and Kerr connected with a quick three-touch effort resulting in the latter finishing past Diaz.
Locked at two at halftime, pace of play slowed considerably in the final 45 minutes. Physical play resulted in five cautions alone for the Hounds, as well as penalty kicks for each club.
New York was awarded the first PK in the 75th minute after Ryan Adeleye fouled second-half sub Ben Mines in the box. Bezecourt would go onto secure the brace on the penalty try.
The Hounds attack did not relent though, mounting a considerable amount of pressure following the penalty, including a shot from distance by Victor Souto forcing a save from Diaz. Regaining possession shortly after the save, the Hounds were awarded a PK in the 80th minute after Hertzog was taken down.
Shooting for his second goal of the night, Hertzog’s penalty take was initially saved by Diaz. The Hounds forward though stayed with the shot after Diaz could not maintain possession, collecting the rebound and beating the keeper on the second chance attempt to secure a point for the Hounds.
The draw marked an encouraging start to the season for the Hounds compared to last year, when the club scored three or more goals only twice. For Hertzog, his two-goal effort was the third of his career with Pittsburgh and his now 15 career goals in Black and Gold move him into a tie for eighth all-time in club history – Said Ali and Gary DePalma being the other two.
The Hounds are right back at it next Saturday at Highmark Stadium, as they will take on FC Cincinnati at 5 p.m. For more information, visit Riverhounds.com.
Riverhounds – Keasel Broome – Taylor Washington, Gale Agbossoumonde (Ryan Adeleye 56’), Jamal Jack, Rich Balchan – Stephen Okai, Victor Souto, Jack Thompson (Kay Banjo 77’), Marshall Hollingsworth (Ben Swanson 62’) – Kevin Kerr, Corey Hertzog
Subs not used: Trey Mitchell, Mike Green, Abuchi Obinwa, Ben Fitzpatrick
Red Bulls II – Rafael Diaz – David Najem, Tim Schmoll, Hassan Ndam, Ethan Kutler – David Abidor, Arun Basuljevic, Andrew Tinari (Kevin O’Toole 71’), Vincent Bezecourt – Florian Valot, Junior Flemmings (Ben Mines 58’)
Subs not used: Evan Louro
NY – Florian Valot 6’ (Arun Basuljevic)
PGH – Corey Hertzog 9’ (Taylor Washington)
NY – Vincent Bezecourt 16’ (Andrew Tinari)
PGH – Kevin Kerr 39’ (Marshall Hollingsworth)
NY – Vincent Bezecourt 76’ (penalty)
PGH – Corey Hertzog 81’ (penalty)
PGH – Stephen Okai 48’ (caution)
PGH – Marshall Hollingsworth 59’ (caution)
PGH – Corey Hertzog 75’ (caution)
PGH – Victor Souto 77’ (caution)
PGH – Ryan Adeleye 87’ (caution)
Cleveland Brothers "Blue Collar Player of the Game"
On team’s wingbacks….
Rich is a good, experienced wingback. Taylor’s got speed and power on the other side and his crossing was off tonight, but he got a cross in position a number of times. That’s two more things that need to get better. You can see little glimpses, but they’re not there yet.
On Corey Hertzog’s first goal…
I thought Corey’s was unbelievable. I thought it was a great effort and then for whatever it’s worth the photo moment – he picked up the ball boy and celebrated with the ball boy as well. I don’t know who caught that and who didn’t. I thought Corey’s goal was a great goal.
On additional scoring opportunities…
I thought Jack should have had two. First, second, third minute it’s on his left foot, his hips open to the back post, somebody laid it off for him perfectly- that’s a goal. And then there was a head ball point-blank. But Corey had chances. Kay Banjo, you only saw a few minutes of, is a really dangerous forward. I do think there are some things to build on.
On his first Riverhounds game at Highmark Stadium….
We want to win. We’re at home. We expected to win the game. Our guys worked hard, it’s just the first game – continue the jump, continue to grow. Hopefully get the win next week and carry it forward.
On defending the Red Bulls II attack in the first half on the wing….
Naturally our style of play, it was a lot of bodies in the midfield. Wingers were tucked in, so the emphasis is on playing through the middle. Then it opens up the wings and ends up being played back through the middle. It’s the first game, so it takes time. It’s a whole a new system.
On bringing the young guys along…
I think the young players are good. It’s good experience for them. This is my seventh year, so there’s definitely a lot I have to offer. And stay positive. The biggest thing is we have to stay positive.
On picking up the ball boy and running with him down the sideline after his first goal…
I coach him every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, so he told me he was going to be there. I told him if I score down there, I’ll pick you up.
On his two goals…
First goal was good. Took a touch around the defender. I think he thought I was playing it back to Taylor. I took advantage of that tight finish. The second goal was pretty lucky. I need to finish that PK in the regular game, but the rebound came back and I just wanted to get it on target.
On playing with Kevin Kerr on the attack…
I thought me and Kevin played well together – one would go, one would check and just look for each other. I think it is a good partnership.