When two teams battle to a nil-nil draw, who wins? Well no one, obviously, but what I mean is that there’s different takeaways that can come from a nil-nil result. For the two Pennsylvania squads that faced off Saturday evening, it feels like both are destined to come away disappointed.
For Penn FC, the draw and the important road point should feel like an achievement. Particularly because they were the team that felt like they were at a disadvantage most of the evening. However, this draw actually felt like a poorer result than last week’s 1-0 loss at Charleston. Against Charleston, Penn FC was able to control possession, complete most of their passes, and consistently push the ball into their opponent’s side of the field. It was only due to their inability to put a shot on goal and a single defensive failure that they took the loss for that match.
When Penn FC took the field in Pittsburgh, they were unable to maintain these positive attributes from the week before. The Riverhounds defense made a bigger effort to smother the Penn FC attack, and their distribution stats suffered. They only managed to complete about 50% of their passes during the match, and they only maintained 40% possession.
For the Pittsburgh fans, Saturday’s match must have had strong feeling’s of deja vu. Not only was the 0-0 result the same as what they saw their opening week against Nashville FC, the match unfolded in almost the same way. The Riverhounds were the bigger threat for most of the match, and if it weren’t for some spectacular saves by Matt Pickens and Romu Peiser, Pittsburgh could have easily won both matches. So the overall feeling for the Riverhounds was “disappointed” and head coach Bob Lilley said as much in his post game press conference.
It’d have to be doubly disappointing for the Hounds because they had several beautiful opportunities early on during Saturdays match that simply didn’t find the back of the net. It was Romeo Parkes who should have opened the scoring when he slipped behind the defense off of a quick restart to get one-on-one with Peiser. Based on the angles available to him, Parkes tried to slide a low ball to the near post. Peiser couldn’t get to it, but the shot was well wide. A similar opportunity came just a few minutes later off of a Christiano Francois cross, but this time Parkes sent it up and over the goal from six yards out.
While he wasn’t called in on those two shots, Peiser was the hero for Penn FC Saturday night. Each of his three saves was a beauty and at least one should end up in the voting for USL Save of the Week. In addition he had his presence felt by coming off of his line for some big punches and also venturing even further out for some headers when the situation called for it. But he also spent a little too much time slowing down the match in the final minutes, and he earned himself a yellow card for stalling in stoppage time.
So now the Keystone Derby competitors will go their separate ways for a while while facing similar issues. Neither team has scored a goal yet this season, and they’re the only two teams in the entire USL who still haven’t. It’s especially bad for Penn FC, as they’ve only had one shot on goal this season. Perhaps it’s just a side effect of both the teams having new coaches and almost entirely new rosters for 2018. Whatever the problem is, hopefully the teams will have gotten things figured out by the time they return to Highmark Stadium in May.
- Tommy Heinemann did make his Penn FC debut Saturday night. He was able to put in a full 90 minutes, only coming off during the second half stoppage time. So the questions about his current level of health appear to have been answered.
- Speaking of subbing, Penn FC Head Coach Raoul Voss only used two of his subs for the second straight game. It looks like he trusts his starting XI to go all the way during their matches, and it’ll be interesting to see if the trend continues.
- Penn FC faces another tough match up next week as they travel to meet Atlanta United 2 for the first time. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, gets to face struggling Toronto FC II on the road.