The few Pittsburgh Riverhounds fans that made their way to Highmark Stadium last night were severely disappointed in their club’s performance.
The Riverhounds, who faced the Lansdowne Bhoys FC amatuer team out of New York, participated in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. However, their Cup days ended last night with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of LBFC.
The Bhoys had their first goal scored in the 10’ minute off a Craig Purcell header. The goal came from a free kick for the Bhoys after Riverhounds defender Karsten Smith was called for a foul. The second goal came in the 76’ minute from Daryl Kavanagh. Ovan Oakley first had a shot, but it was deflected by goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas. However, Kavanagh got the rebound and sent it past Vargas, who seemingly had no one on the defense helping him.
The Riverhounds had plenty of scoring opportunities, but couldn’t put any shots in the back of Abdoukarim Danso’s goal. Corey Hertzog and Caleb Postlewait both had the best opportunities in the second half, but both of their shots either hit the crossbar or went a bit over the crossbar.
“Look, at the end of the day, we’re just not good enough as a group,” assistant coach Josh Rife said to the media following the match. “That’s something that’s been a common theme so far throughout the season for us. I would say, up to this point, there’s been not a game that I don’t think we’ve been in. This one, again, we just don’t seem to have what it takes, and that falls on us as a coaching staff, it falls on the players and it just has to be better.”
“Are we disappointed? Sure,” Rife continued. “Extremely disappointed? Yes, but the beauty of the U.S. Open Cup is what happened out there. It’s obviously awful to be on this end of it, from our standpoint and obviously an outside perception that says ‘We should be better.’ And I agree; we should be better.”
The Riverhounds haven’t had a stellar season, as they are still looking for their first win. Now, with the loss in the U.S. Open Cup to an amatuer team, it seems that head coach Mark Steffens might be on the hot seat. According to DKPittsburghSports, sources have said that Steffens and his entire staff are “on the hot seat.”
Steffens has tried to make a change, switching things up on the pitch and in his tactical lineup. Steffens made the change of goalkeepers last weekend by starting Mauricio Vargas over Hunter Gilstrap. Vargas made his second straight start on Wednesday night, and is expected to start again on Saturday over Toronto FC II.
Steffens also switched up the back line, adding Karsten Smith at centerback with Willie Hunt and putting Ryan Dodson at left back for Marshall Hollingsworth, who sat in the stands with Ben Swanson. Also making a move to defense was usual midfielder Mike Green, who went to right back.
Throughout the entire season, there has never been consistency with the back four and the goalkeeper, as we have yet to see the same combination twice. Steffens has changed it up every single match.
The Riverhounds have the chance to redeem themselves, and maybe even Steffens and his staff, on Saturday, May 21, against Toronto FC II. The match will be held at Highmark Stadium and kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The last time Toronto FC II and the Riverhounds met, the final was a 2-2 draw.