Hounds strike early, but can’t keep their lead against Francois, Miami FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC eventually scored a home goal in 2021, but Miami FC escaped Highmark Stadium with a 1-1 draw in front of 3,115 fans on Saturday night.
First-year Hounds forward Russell Cicerone posted the only home tally, his best fourth of the year tag team in the 10th minute. But former Pittsburgh fan favorite Cristiano Francois tied it up before halftime, rendering the Hounds (2-3-2, 8 points) winless in their first three home meetings for the first time in the four-year-old Bob Lilley era.
Lilley and winger Jordan Dover each made their 100th game for Pittsburgh, but there would be no end of the storybook for the Hounds, who remained one point behind Miami (3-3-1, 9 points ) for fourth place of the eight teams. Atlantic Division of the USL Championship. The top four teams will advance to the playoffs.
The Hounds got their sought-after home breakthrough barely 10 minutes into the game, with Cicerone polishing Alex Dixon’s cross-stream. Dixon did most of the work collecting his third assist, rushing down the left flank and waiting for the perfect opportunity to toss the ball into traffic.
Clinic on the cross and the finish.
– Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) June 12, 2021
Pittsburgh continued to press through the first half, but couldn’t find another shot on frame. Cicerone’s bid for a second goal in the 20th minute was canceled by an offside whistle, as Miami struggled to defend the Hounds’ quick attack.
However, the visitors managed to keep 60% possession in the first half, a rate that ironically paid off in a bang-bang equalizer.
Jumping on a loose ball in midfield, Ariel Martinez inserted a pass between François’ defenders, who bypassed goalkeeper Danny Vitiello and sharpened a shot through Preston Kilwein just two minutes before half-time.
Each team generated a golden chance in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, but Miami’s Martinez fired a shot over the crossbar from inside the 18, and Dixon was denied a goal in the top of the standings by jumping the goalkeeper Connor Sparrow.
Dixon nearly created the tiebreaker in the 87th minute, when he was knocked back by an aerial pass inside the penalty area. However, referee Brad Jensen did not whistle. A 90th-minute flashing header from Kilwein also approached, but sailed just off the right post.
Albert Dikwa got his foot cut off inside the 18 during stoppage time, but once again Jensen was not impressed. The home crowd, the largest in Pittsburgh since the 2019 season, roared their displeasure as the result became final.
In the final tally, possession was nearly even, but the Hounds held advantages in shots (10-4), shots on target (4-1) and crosses (14-5).
The Hounds will then play back-to-back road games over a four-day span, traveling to face Indy Eleven on Tuesday, then having a chance for revenge early in Tampa on Saturday.