Rob is back from covering NHL Draft over weekend, what moves will the Penguins make in free agency? Plus Pens scouts and draft picks talks about the NHL Draft.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds were dealt a painful 1-0 defeat by the Rochester Rhinos in Saturday night’s USL Eastern Conference clash at a waterlogged Sahlen’s Stadium.
A soaked surface contributed to the Hounds’ first game without a goal this year after head coach Mark Steffens’ side had hit the net in all previous 16 outings. The contest looked to be heading for a scoreless tie as the oversaturated turf field consistently stopped the ball in its tracks.
That changed with 12 minutes remaining when Rochester’s Tony Walls scored the decider from the penalty spot after a questionable call against Hounds defender Anthony Arena.
Referee Jaime Herrera judged that seemingly innocuous contact between Arena and his former Houston Dynamo teammate Alex Dixon was enough to flatten the Rochester substitute.
Walls sent his kick high into Calle Brown’s right corner to earn the undefeated league leaders another victory to advance to a 9-0-5 record (32 points). Rochester also equaled the club’s 14-game unbeaten record to start a season that was first set in 1998.
The Hounds remain on 19 points with a 5-5-4 record.
Pittsburgh’s best chance of the night arrived two minutes before the penalty decision when Kevin Kerr latched onto Miro Cabrilo’s sweeping diagonal pass and rounded Rhinos goalkeeper Brandon Miller.
Kerr looked a near certainty to break the deadlock. His shot stuck in one of the many puddles littering the playing surface.
Tensions boiled over following Rochester’s goal. Steffens and assistant coach Niko Katic were dismissed. Danny Earls received a yellow card after becoming embroiled in a midfield scrap against his former team. Willie Hunt was then sent off in injury time after picking up a second booking.
Rochester forward Christian Volesky squandered two great chances to put the Rhinos ahead in the first half. Kenardo Forbes got behind the Hounds’ defense on 18 minutes and left the ball for Volesky. His point blank shot was fired high over the crossbar.
Colin Rolfe picked up a miscued Hounds clearance two minutes later and released Forbes on the right flank. Volesky fired the Jamaican’s cross wide of a gaping net.
The Hounds sustained the heavy Rhinos pressure early on and started to push forward in the last minutes before halftime. A hard challenge by Earls on 42 minutes allowed Stephen Okai to break free. Okai played a ball past the Rochester back line for Kevin Kerr to run onto. Miller’s fingertips marginally saved Kerr’s chipped effort.
Pittsburgh maintained that momentum after the interval with the driving wind and rain in their favor. Rob Vincent almost caught Miller out with a speculative 50-yard lob, and Cabrilo slid a header narrowly wide of the far post before Walls netted the decisive strike.
The Hounds return to Highmark Stadium next Saturday for a July 4 clash against the New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Fans are welcome to stay in their seats or enter the field after the game to watch Downtown Pittsburgh’s fireworks display.