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Hounds carry momentum into off week

By Anthony Picardi, 06/08/18, 11:00AM EDT


It wasn’t a shutout, but Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC had one of its best defensive performances of the season to date.

Only on one other occasion had the squad held its opponents to no more than three total shots. But unlike the Hounds’ earlier match against Ottawa Fury FC, this time the team accomplished the feat outside of Highmark Stadium’s friendly confines.

Smothering the Richmond Kickers’ attack, Pittsburgh (5-1-6) defeated the old-time adversary, 2-1, this past Saturday at City Stadium. Leading the defensive charge for the Hounds was a former Kicker – one who had earned USL All-League First Team honors in 2016 for the rival side.

“Our main focus was to stay organized,” defender Hugh Roberts said. “At the end of the day if we limit their chances, we limit their scoring opportunities and we wanted to make sure we were on the offensive front putting pressure on them rather them putting pressure on us.”

Starting his fourth straight game for the club, Roberts posted a Hounds-high five clearances at his old stomping grounds this past weekend. This marks the second straight match the Gaithersburg, Maryland native has led Pittsburgh in this statistic.

Roberts and the Hounds now will have something on their schedule that they have not been accustomed to seeing – a break. After a stretch of six games in 18 days, the Black and Gold will have two weeks off from its past showdown against Richmond until its next match against New York Red Bulls II on June 16.

“We’ve had so many games in so many amount of days,” Roberts said. “It’s not even just physically, but mentally too, just to get a nice, little mental break.”

As the team is in the midst of this two-week hiatus, it will allow its many veteran players to receive needed rest, in addition to helping its athletes become even healthier. Since sustaining a leg injury about two months ago, defender Joe Greenspan has progressed in his rehabilitation process and practiced alongside his teammates this past week.

Having the 6-foot-6-inch center back available again will be a welcome addition to an already dominant backline. The United States Naval Academy product leads the club with 14.5 clearances per game this season.

“He’s a great leader for this team,” Roberts said. “He has tremendous experience from MLS. He’s a big, vocal person in the back as well. To have him come back will be great for us defensively.”

While Greenspan and the Hounds use this extra week to recuperate, they will have a tough matchup once they return to action. Scheduled to clash with Red Bulls II (4-3-5) at 7 p.m. on June 16 at Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh will need all the help it can get to slow down a New York attack that paces the Eastern Conference with 202 shots.

Roberts said he plans to hit the gym and continue to run in order to keep his fitness up for the New York match, as he, like many players, will return home during the club’s off period.

“I’m looking forward to enjoy these next couple days off and just relax with the family,” Roberts said about returning home to Maryland. “Everyone is home, and it will be good to see everybody.”