Recap provided by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
HARRISON, N.J. (Sept. 26, 2015) -The Pittsburgh Riverhounds were eliminated from the United Soccer League playoffs at the first hurdle Saturday night with a 4-2 loss after extra time to the New York Red Bulls II at Red Bull Arena.READ MORE: Westmoreland Co. Board Of Elections Making Changes, Restructuring
Two goals from Red Bulls defender Karl Ouimette and one apiece from Manolo Sanchez and substitute Dan Bedoya clinched the win on a dramatic evening in New Jersey. Willie Hunt had twice headed the Hounds into the lead only for the hosts to eventually turn the game their way with a penalty shootout looming.
New York advances to face the USL regular season champion Rochester Rhinos at Sahlen’s Stadium next Saturday night.
Hounds head coach Mark Steffens selected the same starting 11 that defeated Harrisburg City Islanders last week to seal a place in the postseason.
The opening stages saw both teams feeling their way into the game without much action at either end. That changed on 15 minutes when the Hounds hit the front with a goal of great quality from Hunt.
Captain Danny Earls whipped in a trademark inswinging free kick that invited his teammates to attack it at the back post. Hunt climbed highest to power home an excellent header from 12 yards out.
Calle Brown maintained the Hounds’ lead on 19 minutes with a magnificent stop to palm Stefano Bonomo’s shot over his crossbar.
Vini Dantas almost doubled Pittsburgh’s lead on a swift counter less than a minute later when he fired a low shot off the base of Santi Castano’s far post.
New York took control of the first half from that moment forward with wide men Sanchez and Marius Obekop getting around the outside of the Hounds’ defense. Leo Stolz placed a firm header straight into Brown’s grasp before sending a difficult volley narrowly wide of the far post from Bonomo’s knock down.
The Red Bulls drew level on 62 minutes through a tidy finish by Sanchez. Stolz released his teammate in space on the right side of the penalty area. Sanchez showed composure to cut inside the recovering Sterling Flunder before guiding a low shot beyond Brown’s reach.
Pittsburgh’s back four continued to withstand constant pressure from the young Bulls before springing a counter on 81 minutes that almost brought a second goal. Dantas chested down a cross ball inside the 18-yard box before sending in a shot that was deflected narrowly wide of target.READ MORE: Black Bear Spotted Roaming Near Rt. 981 In New Alexandria
Brown later ensured that extra time would be required to settle the contest with an outstanding reflex save to keep out Colin Heffron’s header from inside the 6-yard box.
The Hounds regained the lead six minutes into injury time when Hunt threw himself at Matt Dallman’s corner kick to steer another header past Castano. Ouimette cancelled out the lead five minutes later when he controlled Bedoya’s corner kick before pivoting to place a shot inside Brown’s far post.
Ouimette matched Hunt’s feat of scoring twice from set plays to edge New York ahead on 115 minutes. Another wicked Bedoya delivery was inadvertently flicked to the back post by a stretching Earls. Ouimette stooped to guide a difficult header into the net and put the Red Bulls ahead for the first time.
Still the Hounds battled on. Kevin Kerr went through on Castano’s goal with three minutes remaining only to see his attempted chip shot diverted away by the goalkeeper’s fingertips.
It was a costly miss. The sprightly Red Bulls broke clear in the final minute against a shorthanded Hounds defense and Bedoya administered the last rites to Pittsburgh’s season.
The result extended a barren postseason run dating back to the 2004 USL Pro Soccer League Atlantic Division Finals when Pittsburgh registered 4-0 and 3-1 wins over the Harrisburg City Islanders. The Utah Blitzz ended the Hounds’ run at the semifinal stage before toppling Steffens’ Charlotte Eagles on penalties in the championship decider.
PGH – Willie Hunt 15′ (Danny Earls)
NY – Manolo Sanchez 62′ (Leo Stolz)
PGH – Willie Hunt 97′ (Matt Dallman)
NY – Karl Ouimette 101′ (Dan Bedoya)
NY – Karl Ouimette 115′
NY – Dan Bedoya 119′
PGH – Lebo Moloto 60′ (caution)
PGH – Anthony Arena 65′ (caution)
PGH – Ben Newnam 120’+ (caution)
PGH – Ben Newnam 120+’ (second caution, dismissal)
Riverhounds – Calle Brown, Sterling Flunder (Miro Cabrilo 112′), Anthony Arena, Willie Hunt, Matt Dallman (Drew Russell 118′), Danny Earls, Rob Vincent, Boris Zivanovic (Michael Green 71′), Lebo Moloto, Kevin Kerr, Vini Dantas (Ben Newnam 83′)
New York Red Bulls II – Santi Castano, Colin Heffron (James Thomas 107′), Konrad Plewa, Karl Ouimette, Shawn McLaws, Sean Davis (Bolu Akinyobe 97′), Devon Williams, Marius Obekop (Dan Bedoya 82′), Leo Stolz (Franklin Castellanos 99′), Manolo Sanchez (Mike Da Fonte 120′), Stefano Bonomo
Jaime Herrera (referee), Danny Thornberry, Tom Felice (assistants), Ernie Constantine (fourth official)