(Aug. 27, 2022) — Albert Dikwa netted a goal in each half to spark Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to a 2-1 win on the road over Atlanta United 2 tonight at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.
Dikwa put the Hounds (14-7-5) in front just a minute before halftime, and he netted secured his second two-goal game of the season in the 71st minute, just five minutes after Jackson Conway tied the game for Atlanta (4-20-4).
The win moves the Hounds back into a tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference with Birmingham Legion FC. The two teams each have eight games remaining and meet Sept. 14 in the race for a home playoff match.
Atlanta came out controlling more of possession — the hosts had a 65 percent possession number through 15 minutes — but it was the Hounds who created the bulk of the chances, including a 20th-minute downward header by Dikwa that bounced over the crossbar from just 5 yards out.
Robbie Mertz, playing his first game back against his former team, nearly put the Hounds ahead at the half-hour mark, but his shot from inside the box was cleared off the line by Atlanta’s Bryce Washington, a former collegiate player for Pitt.
Dikwa finally put the Hounds’ noses in front in the 44th minute, as Mertz set him up on his right foot with a one-touch pass to link play on the initial pass forward by Kenardo Forbes. It was Mertz’s eighth assist of the year and second since rejoining Pittsburgh.
The Hounds sought a second goal early in the half, and Forbes was denied twice by good saves from Atlanta goalkeeper Vicente Reyes.
But in the 66th minute, the home team go on the board when Ajani Fortune made a good overlapping run down the right side. Fortune lofted a cross to the back post, and Conway rose to head in his team-leading eighth goal for Atlanta.
The Hounds responded quickly with a header of their own, as Dani Rovira worked the left sideline for room to swing in a ball to the opposite post, where Dikwa met the pass with a strong, headed finish. The ninth goal of the season adds to Dikwa’s career-best total, and Rovira also adds to a career-high with five assists this season.
The Hounds used all five of their substitutions after Dikwa’s second goal, and they were able to hold off Atlanta despite six minutes of stoppage time being added.
Kevin Silva made three saves in net for the Hounds, who outshot Atlanta, 13-7, and had a slight edge with 52.7 percent of possession for the game.
Hounds Man of the Match
Albert Dikwa was the difference-maker in the match with his two goals, and he was buzzing around on nearly every good Hounds chance. He led all players with six touches in the opponent’s box, and he completed 22 of 24 passes as a strong target man up top.
The Hounds have short rest as they get ready to host the Charleston Battery (4-17-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Highmark Stadium. Though the Battery are out of the playoff hunt after a 3-0 loss tonight to Detroit, they did hand the Hounds a stunning 3-0 defeat earlier this season in South Carolina.
Riverhounds SC lineup (5-2-1-2) — Kevin Silva; Dani Rovira (Jesse Williams 85’), Mekeil Williams, Arturo Ordóñez, Shane Wiedt, Alex Dixon (Marc Ybarra 72’); Robbie Mertz (Angelo Kelly 72’), Danny Griffin; Kenardo Forbes (Luis Argudo 72’); Edward Kizza (Jelani Peters 85’), Albert Dikwa
Atlanta United 2 lineup (4-3-2-1) — Vicente Reyes; Michael Ambrose (Nelson Orji 78’), Noah Cobb (Efraín Morales 60’), Bryce Washington, Raimar; Luke Brennan (Erik Centeno 57’), Nick Firmino, Toni Tiente (Darwin Matheus 78’); Ajani Fortune, Jackson Conway; Tristan Trager
PIT — Albert Dikwa 44’ (Robbie Mertz)
ATL — Jackson Conway 66’ (Ajani Fortune)
PIT — Albert Dikwa 71’ (Dani Rovira)
ATL — Ajani Fortune 9’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
ATL — Bryce Washington 35’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Danny Griffin 62’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Mekeil Williams 89’ (caution – dissent)
ATL — Raimar 90+3’ (caution – unsporting behavior)
PIT — Jesse Williams 90+6’ (caution – delaying restart)