Match: Harrisburg City Islanders at Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Date: Saturday, April 29th
Venue: Highmark Stadium (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Refs: REF: CALIN RADOSAV AR1: Adrienne McDonald AR2: Brandon Smith 4TH: Alfonso Fajardo
How Pittsburgh will look: The poor Riverhounds might still be drying off from their soggy match last week at Richmond. Even in all of that rain however, they were showing flashes of excellent play. They’ve been the most successful when they’ve been able to press the attack early. Pittsburgh’s primary tool for accomplishing this is rookie Kay Banjo, who has scored within the first five minutes of play twice so far this year. Let’s also not forget, the ‘hounds are the only team to best the Charleston Battery so far this season. Look for them to push forward hard early to try and put the game out of reach and get their first home win of the year.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg travels to Pittsburgh with some extra rest, as their last match was a mid-week affair back on the 18th. Most notably, Harrisburg’s defense has been stout so far this year after giving up a total of 54 goals last season. The physicality of new additions Lee Nishanian and Abass Mohamed has kept opposing teams from developing in the final third, and Harrisburg’s opponents are not seeing many chances for shots on goal. However, that same physicality can lead to some fouls just outside the box, giving opposing teams some dangerous free kick opportunities. Don’t expect that to change much in Pittsburgh.
What to expect: When Harrisburg and Pittsburgh clashed in 2015, they produced an instant classic not once, but twice. All USL fans should revisit the 5/30/15 match at Pittsburgh (a 6-5 comeback with two goals in stoppage time) and the 7/26/15 match at Harrisburg (City Islanders scored three goals with ten men). The matches in 2016 never rose to that level, but it’s a new year and both teams are playing for PA pride and a chance to hold the Keystone Derby Cup.
The season is still young, and neither team has gotten into a groove yet. Harrisburg’s defense has improved greatly, but it’s hard to guarantee goals until the offense really starts clicking. If they weather the start of the match without conceding any goals, they’ll be sitting pretty.
PREDICTION: Harrisburg scores a late equalizer for a 2-2 draw.