An explosion led to three points for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
Blasting off from the six-yard box, Neco Brett launched feet-first into a cross from midfielder Christiano François. Once the ball sailed across the goalmouth, the striker redirected it into the back of the net.
Brett’s 11th tally of the season led the Hounds to a 1-0 victory against Toronto FC II last time out on Aug. 4. Working on a two-game winning streak, the Hounds (11-3-7) will now head across the state to battle Bethlehem Steel FC (9-9-6) at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Goodman Stadium.
“Bethlehem scores a lot of goals,” Brett said. “We’re just trying to stay compact, trying to give them fewer chances. They’re good with the ball. Trying to get that pressure on the ball and hopefully everything else will take care of itself.”
Brett, himself, is familiar with scoring in bunches. Notching three tallies in the Hounds’ past two games, the forward is fresh off a USL Player of the Week honor – his second of the season – and his third Team of the Week honor of 2018.
“It feels good,” Brett said. “It’s all about teamwork, coaches’ instruction and also putting in the hard work and capitalizing on my chances.”
This season, the Kingston, Jamaica native is on pace for 17 goals, which projects to rank third all-time on the club’s single-season record list behind Thiago Martins (scored 22 goals in 2003) and Rob Vincent (scored 18 goals in 2015).
As for league rankings, Brett finds himself two goals off the lead in the race for the Golden Boot. While Brett remains in the hunt for the award, teammate Dennis Chin has already had familiarity with the honor. In 2012, Chin led the USL with 11 goals and 24 points while playing for Orlando City SC.
Six years later, Chin provides the Pittsburgh frontline with veteran leadership. This direction was exemplified last time out against Toronto, as Chin’s run into the offensive third contributed to the opportunity and buildup before Brett’s game-winning tally.
“I was always a fan of Neco,” Chin said. “He has great movement, great first touch. He really wants to score goals, so at the beginning I looked at him and was like, ‘all right, this is a guy I got to help to get to where he needs to be.’ And he’s grown.”
At around 10 years old, Brett realized he had a gift for scoring.
“I started to play on the street, play in football competitions,” Brett said. “We always did shootouts, and I’m always scoring. So I was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to stick to this.’”
From scoring 100 career points at Robert Morris University to currently leading the Hounds in goals, Brett’s decision to stick to shooting has been fruitful, and his success in his third season at the USL level has helped place Pittsburgh in position to host its first-ever playoff game at Highmark Stadium.
With the postseason in sight, the Hounds have a tough road challenge at Bethlehem awaiting them. The squad has never won at Goodman Stadium (0-2-2), and Steel FC also currently holds a playoff spot heading into this weekend’s slate of games.
“To win championships, you need consistency,” Chin said. “Some games are not going to go your way, but as long as the performance is great, then you can look forward to the next game and say that won’t happen again.”