Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Date: Wednesday, May 24th
Time: 6:30 PM Eastern
Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Referees: Not assigned by PRO at time of publication
How Pittsburgh will look: Pittsburgh made sure to capitalize on their momentum after last month’s win over the City Islanders. They picked up two more wins over Toronto FC II and Ottawa Fury FC before dropping a very close match last Saturday at home against Louisville City FC. They also re-signed controversial striker Romeo Parkes in an effort to boost their offensive output, although he has mostly been used as a substitute thus far. Expect the Hounds to come to City Island with a lot of swagger.
Pittsburgh may actually get some additional support at City Island if they bring along defender Connor Maloney, who was recently loaned to the team from the Columbus Crew. Connor is originally from Harrisburg, where he was an All-American in high school at Bishop McDevitt. Maloney also played with the Philadelphia Union Youth as well.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg was frustrated that they couldn’t pick up the win against the Charleston Battery last Saturday, but there were a lot of positives to take from that match. The offense was finally getting in sync, and they generated a lot of quality chances. But it shouldn’t be overlooked that Harrisburg is still in the middle of a four match winless streak. If this match is still tied as time is running out, the City Islanders will be pushing hard for the W.
What to expect: Wednesday’s match has all the makings of a defensive struggle. Neither side has been lighting up the scoreboard this season, so a big blowout doesn’t seem likely. Pittsburgh has only given up one goal over their last four matches, thanks in large part to impressive play from defenders Taylor Washington and Joe Greenspan, along with a good run of form for goalkeeper Trey Mitchell. Harrisburg’s defense has consistently stood tall as well, and they’ve gotten better and better at snuffing out their opponent's chances before they even get close to the box.
However, that doesn’t mean that either side’s defense will be able to lose focus during the match. The Pittsburgh duo of Corey Hertzog and Kevin Kerr have scored a lot of goals on the Islanders over the years, and they showed last month how fast they can get open for a goal. The Hounds also have Marshall Hollingsworth, who is always capable of a dangerous, accurate shot from distance.
Harrisburg may not have scored a lot so far this season, but they’ve certainly spread the goals around. Aaron Wheeler has scored twice, while six other Islanders have one goal apiece. This opportunistic offensive style has kept defenses from being able to focus their attention on one particular Islander. Every player near the box can be a goal scoring threat.
PREDICTION: The Riverhounds have been rocketing up the standings, but Harrisburg has been impressive at home, and I think their defense has what it takes to shut down Pittsburgh. I’m going with a 1-0 win for the City Islanders.