PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Riverhounds host Bethlehem Steel FC Saturday night in the opening round of the USL Playoffs in what will be the first postseason game in Highmark Stadium history. The Hounds earned home field advantage for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal after completing the most successful regular season in team history.
The Hounds were one of the most consistent teams in the USL over the course of the season, going unbeaten in the first nine games and never falling below the top half of the Eastern Conference standings.
Head Coach Bob Lilley was brought in late in 2017 to help solidify the Hounds’ defense and bring a winning culture to a team that had failed to live up to expectations in seasons past.
Lilley accomplished both, going 15-5-14 in 2018 while the Hounds were one of the stingiest defenses in the league, shutting out their opponents 17 times and only allowing 26 goals all season.
Anchoring the defense is center back Joe Greenspan and Dan Lynd between the pipes. Lynd was one of the top goaltenders in the USL throughout the season, earning 12 shutouts. The 6’6 Greenspan used his height and physical prowess to clear the Hounds lines, winning 72 percent of aerial duels.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Hounds were led by speedy forwards Nico Brett, Romeo Parkes, Kenardo Forbes and Christiano Francois.
Brett, a Robert Morris alum, led Pittsburgh with 15 goals, while Parkes was second on the team. Francois and Forbes provided the assists; the four would often link up in great combination play with precision passing between the forwards.
Despite an injury that sidelined him for almost half the season, team captain and longest-tenured Hound Kevin Kerr provided veteran leadership and a strong locker room presence. Kerr has been with the team since Highmark Stadium opened in 2013 and is the all-time leading scorer for the franchise.
The Riverhounds won both contests this season against Bethlehem, outscoring them 6-2 and have never lost to their cross-state rival at Highmark.
If the Hounds are to advance on Saturday they will likely have to be road warriors for the remainder of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Defending USL champion Louisville will most likely be waiting in the second round and also rival Cincinnati in the other half of the bracket, who had the best record in the league this season.
The match on Saturday can be seen on Pittsburgh’s CW at 7 p.m.