The Pittsburgh Riverhounds finished off their 2016 USL season Saturday night with a loss to FC Cincinnati, in a close 1-0 contest that was decided on a penalty kick in the 31′ minute. Pittsburgh defender Willie Hunt was called for a handball in the box, and FC Cincinnati’s Sean Okoli buried his pk.
The Riverhounds pushed and had several opportunities, but it wasn’t enough to get past FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt (who finished the night with just one save) and his defenders.
Both teams had a player issued a yellow card. Pittsburgh’s Corey Hertzog earned the first yellow card of the night in the 36’ minute, and FC Cincinnati’s Tyler Polak earned the second yellow card in the 73’ minute.
While Riverhounds head coach Dave Brandt wasn’t pleased with Hertzog’s yellow card, Brandt expressed how pleased he was with how Hertzog never gave up on trying to find the goal.
“He always does that,” Brandt said. “That is just Corey 24/7. Heart of a lion, and the lungs of one, too, because he just goes, and goes and goes. Corey has had a great season, without a doubt. It is too bad he couldn’t steal one at the end. He had a great season.”
The Riverhounds elected to start Zack Steffen (who had three saves) in goal, despite longtime goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap’s retirement announcement. At halftime, the Riverhounds held a special ceremony for Gilstrap, who announced he will remain in Pittsburgh as the director of goalkeeping for the Riverhounds Academy.
The Riverhounds will now have a busy offseason. Brandt noted the team has already sent out staff to recruit new players, and the head coach said he’ll hold one-on-one player meetings in the coming weeks.
Brandt also said he was disappointed the team couldn’t give the fans one last win to end the season on a high note. Still, he thanked the supporters.
“There has been some progression,” Brand said, “but is it kind of microcosm of the season? Yeah, I think it felt that way. That being said, the back four has progressed a ton. It is hard to chase the game like that against a good team that’s organized. But let’s face it, and I’ll just say it, I don’t think they had much going on offensive either. To give away a bad penalty like that, that’s what makes it feel like a microcosm of the season. At this point, we are disappointed, and we want to do better.”
Image credit: Pittsburgh Riverhounds