The consequences of Harrisburg’s 0-1 loss Saturday night at Pittsburgh will be felt long after the City Islanders return from the Steel City. Harrisburg was largely ineffective for the full 90 minutes, and now they will most likely be down three starters heading into next Saturday’s match against New York RedBull II.
Harrisburg failed to generate much offense during the first half, only managing two shots from distance. More importantly, the City Islanders game plan suffered a serious blow in the 23rd minute when Aaron Wheeler came down funny on his left leg. Wheeler was able to walk off after a few minutes, and he was even able to return to the pitch for about ten minutes while his sub, Ropapa Mensah, warmed up. But he clearly wasn’t 100 percent, and Harrisburg struggled to adjust without their big man up top.
Pittsburgh was able to keep up the pressure during the first half, and they had a few good chances thanks to the one-two punch of Corey Hertzog and Kevin Kerr. Harrisburg’s defense was however able to snuff out the Riverhounds offense whenever they entered the attacking third.
Harrisburg came out hotter in the second half and tried to set the tone by pushing forward early, but in the 52nd minute left back Abass Mohamed drew his second yellow card for a shove on Corey Hertzog and was promptly sent off. Rather than demoralizing the City Islanders, going down a man seemed to breathe new life into the team. They continued to push into the Pittsburgh half and apply pressure, but none of their shots were able to find the back of the net.
Ultimately however, Harrisburg’s reduced defensive strength would be their undoing. Kevin Kerr had an excellent cross into the box in the 75th minute, and Harrisburg goalkeeper Brandon Miller had no hope of saving Corey Hertzog’s picture perfect header.
The Riverhounds seemed to sense that one goal would be enough to get the win, and they noticeably slowed down play after the 80th minute. Harrisburg tried to develop a few more chances, but the Riverhounds defense was able to turn them all away. A final free kick from midfield at 90’ +4 provided some last second drama, but the long kick was cleared, and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds secured their first home win of the year.
- In addition to Wheeler’s injury and Abass Mohamed’s red card, GK Brandon Miller was shown a red card after the final whistle after appearing to direct some harsh words towards an official. Wheeler’s prognosis is uncertain, but Harrisburg will have to travel to NY without Mohamed and Miller. Veteran GK Nick Noble will be available to step in for Miller, but Mohamed had played every available minute so far this season at LB, and his replacement is less certain.
- Speaking of cards, referee Calin Radosav was very willing to reach for his pocket for both teams. He ultimately handed out eight cards for what didn’t seem like a particularly physical match.
- Pittsburgh defender Taylor Washington repeatedly made his presence felt both on defense and while pushing the ball through the midfield. He spent last season with Bethlehem Steel FC while he was signed to the Philadelphia Union. So he has played for three out of Pennsylvania’s four professional men’s soccer teams.