PITTSBURGH (July 4, 2018) – Following a two-hour lightning delay and a brief stoppage from gameplay due to a stadium lights outage, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (8-1-7) defeated North Carolina FC (5-8-3), 2-0, on Wednesday at Highmark Stadium.
Attacking midfielder Christiano François scored first in the 45th minute, and fellow midfielder Kevin Kerr added an assurance goal in the 71st minute. On the defensive end, goalkeeper Dan Lynd made four saves en route to his eighth clean sheet of the season.
How It Happened
After a two-hour lightning delay that halted the match in the 18th minute, the Hounds exhibited the first flash.
In the 45th minute, Christiano François sprinted into the 18-yard box and blasted a right-footed screamer into the twine, beating North Carolina FC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis to the far post. The attacking midfielder’s second tally of the season gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at the half.
Before François’ bullet-like shot, forward Romeo Parkes nearly cashed in on an opportunity during the 34th minute. After stealing the ball from a North Carolina FC defender, the striker led the break, ultimately seeing his left-footed take saved by Tambakis. Parkes’ rebound attempt also was cleared away.
North Carolina FC had its best first-half scoring chance in the 22nd minute. Following a connection of multiple passes on the left side of the penalty area, defender D.J. Taylor released a shot that Pittsburgh goalkeeper Dan Lynd blocked away from danger.
In the second half, Kevin Kerr posted his second goal of the season. During the 71st minute, holding midfielder Kenardo Forbes sent a cross into the 18-yard box, and Kerr skied to head the ball toward the goalmouth. The sphere snuck in far post by Tambakis to give the Hounds a 2-0 advantage.
Prior to Kerr’s tally, Lynd saved a couple North Carolina FC shots to preserve the team’s one-goal advantage. In the 47th minute, the goalkeeper blocked away forward Ulrich Ewolo’s take and saved an attempt by midfielder Tiyi Shipalane 10 minutes later.
Man of the Match
With his goal, Kevin Kerr moves into sole possession for fifth all-time in club history in the statistic (24 career regular season tallies). He also tied for the team-lead in shots (three) and shots on goal (two) for the match.
Stat of the Game
Hosting games on the holiday at Highmark Stadium since 2013, the Hounds win their third Fourth of July match during this stretch. This also marks the team’s fourth shutout in its six Independence Day games (3-2-1).
Beyond the Box Score
Riverhounds SC will head north of the border on short rest to battle Ottawa Fury FC (6-7-3) at 1 p.m. on Sunday at TD Place. Pittsburgh defeated Ottawa, 1-0, in their first meeting this season (April 14).
Riverhounds SC – Dan Lynd – Ray Lee, Thomas Vancaeyezeele Joe Greenspan, Tobi Adewole, Jordan Dover – Christiano François, Kenardo Forbes (Hugh Roberts 73’), Kevin Kerr (Andrew Lubahn 78’), Romeo Parkes (Mouhamed Dabo 62’) – Neco Brett
Subs not used: Mike Kirk, Todd Pratzner, Kay Banjo, Dennis Chin
North Carolina FC – Alex Tambakis – D.J. Taylor, Connor Tobin (Kyle Bekker 45’), Michael Harrington, Aaron Guillen – Marcel Kandziora (Daniel Rios 72’), Steve Miller, Dre Fortune (Nelson Blanco 85’), Austin da Luz, Tiyi Shipalane – Donovan Ewolo
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Graham Smith, Cameron Steele, Marios Lomis
PGH – Christiano François 45’
PGH – Kevin Kerr 71’
NC – Dre Fortune 75’ (Caution)
PGH – Andrew Lubahn 84’ (Caution)
NC – Nelson Blanco 89’ (Caution)
Head coach Bob Lilley
On the delay…
“It’s difficult. Most seasons you are going to go through a couple of these, and I have had seasons where I had four or five games that were affected by delays.”
On coming out strong…
“We got the goal. That was huge. The second half we came out, we addressed some things and I thought we were ready to go.”
On the atmosphere and fans…
“This is one game where the night started glorious with Fourth of July and a packed house. My hats off to the fans who stayed and it was great to still have an atmosphere.”
Midfielder Christiano François
On keeping warm…
“I have never been in a situation like this. When we were inside, we were still warming up and playing with the ball.”
On defending inside…
“This team is a really good team. They chip the ball pretty well, so coach wanted Kevin and I to come and defend inside. Then when we have the ball, we have to open up.”
On the formation…
“At halftime, coach changed the formation. It is a formation that we have been training and working on. We don’t have a specific formation, we have been switching it all the time.”