Riverhounds SC and New Mexico United, two teams that entered their game sitting in the same place (4th) with the same number of points in their respective conferences, played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the very first meet. between the sides at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saturday night.
FINAL: Riverhounds SC 1, New Mexico United 1
The Hounds spotted United with an early advantage, thanks to a bad gift.
As the saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you end.
That night, after putting himself in a hole, after being outmaneuvered for much of the night, playing against a very strong defensive team, on a baseball field in 90+ degree desert heat at high altitude, the Hounds have found a way to persevere and get results.
The Hounds are now 10-6-4 (34 points) and remain in fourth place, tied with Detroit City FC, which also tied Western Conference side Monterey Bay on Saturday. Third place for Memphis 901 FC is within reach, after losing to Louisville.
Pittsburgh travels to Hartford, then returns to Tulsa and then travels to Indy ahead of a potential showdown against Memphis.
Things should get very interesting in the weeks to come, but unlike the start of the season, the Hounds proved they were up to the challenge in the face of less than ideal circumstances.
Tactics, training and personnel
The Hounds rolled out a familiar starting lineup, fending off a similar formation that took the field in last week’s 4-1 triumph at home to Miami FC. Pittsburgh lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Kenardo Forbes as the only roving midfielder who spent most of his time higher up in the lineup but also dropped deeper at times to help play the ball from behind. . Danny Griffin and Dani Rovira stayed deeper and in the middle, while Nathan Dossantos and Alex Dixon worked the wide channels. Albert Dikwa and Russell Cicerone were asked to provide plenty of movement, both pressing and pulling defenders.
The back line included Arturo Ordonez in the middle between Jelani Peters on the left and Shane Wiedt.
Ironically, after much discussion in our latest Sounding Off on Soccer podcast about the formations and tactical approach this team should take, it was interesting to see the Hounds’ average positions seeing their 3-4-1-2 (or a 5-2-1-2) sometimes turns into a very tight 4-3-3. If you look at the average positions for the night, it certainly looked like that.
It was imperative to play on the road, in adverse conditions, for Lilley to make full use of their bench, bringing in four substitutes in the 62nd and 70th minutes, with Dane Kelly, Angelo Kelly-Rosales, Marc Ybarra and Mekeil Williams all providing useful sets of fresh legs, for Dikwa, Rovira, Peters and Wiedt.
In the 84th minute, Luke Biasi replaced Nate Dossantos, as the Hounds also moved to a back-four to close out the game with Mekeil Williams and Ordonez as the main centre-backs.
Early defensive failure does not shake the back line
United’s Jerome Keisewetter scored in the first minute of the game, enjoying a gift from the Hounds when Shane Wiedt sent a ball straight to United which turned into a quick three-for-one break in the final third.
It was an unfortunate mistake, but some credit should go to the New Mexico press for cutting off Wiedt’s options to go outside, as he was forced to play a ball down the middle, while he could have tried to replay her as the safest. bet.
Former Hound Neco Brett spotted Keisewetter entering the box, and the 29-year-old New Mexico striker, who previously played in the Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart, had an easy finish just 51 seconds into the game – and the New Mexico United’s fastest short goal. the story.
There were a few other shaky moments, mostly in the first 30 minutes, but the Hounds’ back three stayed the course. By the end of the night, they combined for 15 clearances and Ordonez in particular was rock solid all night, especially in a few risky one-on-one situations. In fact, Ordonez was a perfect 7-on-7, winning every one of his duels.
Playing with a back three, with two holding midfielders and especially with Alex Dixon often working the upper attacking channels. This sometimes leaves them compromised and can make errors worse (as was the case with the Wiedt error. If the Hounds played four in the back, maybe that wouldn’t happen?
But again, playing like that also led to a moment early in the second half when Wiedt delivered a fabulous through ball to Dixon down the right side behind the defence. Dixon’s effort brought him to the edge of the penalty area, but he shot too far.
Regardless, the remaining 89 minutes and counting, the backline responded well, played with composure and improved as the game progressed.
Point and shoot
Also, New Mexico controlled possession well for the first 30 minutes, but after that it was pretty even, although NMUTD ended up with a 57-43 advantage. The Hounds struggled to penetrate and get extra touches or shooting opportunities inside the box as they were quickly overrun with dark jerseys.
The New Mexico backline and midfielders thwarted Hounds passes in the final third for most of the first 60 minutes of the game. In fact, NMUTD had a huge advantage in interceptions (15-4) on the night.
In a rare twist, Pittsburgh started taking what New Mexico gave them.
They started taking risks and letting a few shots fly from range.
Danny Griffin’s tear in the first half led to a rebound which was put in the goal by Cicerone, but the Hounds striker was barely offside. Kenardo Forbes, Shane Wiedt, Jelani Peters and Alex Dixon all took turns with hard shots beyond the 18, which missed their mark.
Of the Hounds’ 11 shots, they finished with more from outside the box (6) for the first time I can think of in recent seasons under Bob Lilley.
The Hounds couldn’t capitalize, but as my colleague Jordan Smith pointed out, some of those shots created nerve-wracking moments for New Mexico, including Cicerone’s goal that was disallowed.
A little patience, fresh legs and a fantastic finish deliver Hounds equalizer
The Hounds were held in check until a pair of subs helped spark the effort to get the game-tying goal by finally solving New Mexico’s well-fortified form with a quick and accurate buildup of passes that also required smart finishing by the league’s most prolific. scorer.
Angelo Kelly-Rosales connected with Russell Cicerone to drive the ball into the edge of the box. From there, Cicerone threw a perfect ball that caught Dane Kelly in stride.
The USL Championship’s all-time leading scorer took a smart touch to beat defender and goalkeeper Alex Timbakis for the goal in the 75th minute.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) July 17, 2022
It was the second time in the last three matches that the Hounds’ rotation of centre-forward scored a late second-half goal from the bench substitute. Against Indy Eleven, it was Albert Dikwa. On Saturday, it was Kelly’s turn to show that he can also be effective at entering a game and turning things around.
The Hounds kept pushing forward despite running into a wall of defenders more often than not. They had the confidence to attack New Mexico right in the center of their defense, and it ultimately paid off with some great passing and world-class finishing.
Player Ratings (NMvPIT)
|26||Wait||GC||6||Two stops. Emerging as a go-to keeper?|
|27||Stones||DF||6||He can’t score two goals every game, but he tried with one of those long shots! Got 5 clearances per team and won 3/6 duels|
|15||Order||DF||7.5||Was left on an island on purpose but otherwise it was rock solid|
|3||Wiedt||DF||4.5||The giveaway was tough, but kept on course. Had a fabulous feed at Dixon which could have been a goal.|
|2||Dossantos||DF||5.5||Won 7 out of 12 duels; created a chance; four tackles; two crosses|
|6||Rovira||FM||4.5||Wasn’t too involved, stayed deep and kept in shape; only 7 passes in total and underbed in 62′|
|12||Griffin||FM||6||Won 5 out of 9 duels, created a few chances and had a heartbreaking shot from outside the box that narrowly missed|
|11||Forbes (C)||FM||seven||Created two chances; two crosses (out of 3) connected; the most stable and accurate setter for Hounds (no surprise!)|
|seven||Dixon||FM||6||Won 4 out of 9 duels, missed a few shots, created another chance and won two fouls.|
|9||Dikwa||F.W.||5.5||Another night of hard work, but not so deserving of results. Won two fouls / conceded three. Won 4 out of 9 duels. Created a chance.|
|ten||Cicerone||F.W.||7.5||TO HELP; smart, smart, smart pass to set up Kelly’s equalizer; won 6 of 15 duels; barely offside or would have had goal #9.|
|29||D. Kelly||62′||seven||Fabulous finish.|
|6||Kelly Rosales||62′||6||The pass that found Cicerone in front of goal was terrific; fault conceded; won 1/2 duels|