A goal line clearance from on-loan New York Red Bulls defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste prevented the Pittsburgh Riverhounds from snatching a dramatic late point against the Red Bulls II franchise at Red Bull Arena Sunday.
Drew Russell looked set to mark his Hounds debut with a goal after rounding goalkeeper Santiago Castano in the final seconds of injury time. Jean-Baptiste hooked Russell’s shot off the line to seal New York’s 3-2 win.
English midfielder Rob Vincent had twice leveled for the Hounds before Red Bulls captain Anthony Wallace fired in a 20-yard volley deep into stoppage time to settle the game in the hosts’ favor.
The Hounds remain fifth in the USL’s Eastern Conference with eight points from six games (2-2-2).
Riverhounds head coach Mark Steffens made one change to the team that beat Toronto F.C. II last weekend. Fejiro Okiomah returned in central defense alongside Anthony Arena after recovering from a strained quad muscle. Sterling Flunder dropped to the substitutes’ bench.
Okiomah’s comeback was quickly marked by misfortune. The 24-year-old Texan slipped while backtracking to his 6-yard line to cut out Manolo Sanchez’s cross. He sliced the ball past Ryan Thompson and into the Hounds’ net.
It took fewer than two minutes for Pittsburgh to tie the game via a familiar source. Vincent punished New York’s slack marking by volleying home his fifth goal of the season from 12 yards. Kevin Kerr fed in a pinpoint cross from the right wing after being released down the line by Matt Dallman’s long ball.
Dallman’s season debut against Toronto lasted for 23 minutes before he succumbed to a twisted ankle. He was fortunate to survive beyond the half-hour mark this week after hauling down Dan Bedoya on the edge of the penalty area. Referee Ernie Constantine judged that Dallman did not prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity despite appearing to be the last defender.
New York took the lead again on 66 minutes when Manolo Sanchez was left unattended on the 6-yard line to nod home a right-wing cross from Shawn McLaws.
The Hounds fought back to level terms once again with six minutes remaining. Captain Danny Earls won a crunching tackle inside New York’s defensive third to send the ball to Kerr’s feet. The Scotsman found Vincent at the edge of the penalty area and the Liverpudlain walloped an unerring shot low into Castano’s bottom left corner.
That looked to be enough to edge the Hounds above Louisville City and into fourth place until the Red Bulls threw bodies forward into one last attack. Jean-Baptiste hooked a high punt toward the penalty area that was not effectively cleared.
Once-capped United States national team defender Wallace controlled the ball on the left edge of the box before sending a blistering shot high into Thompson’s far corner.
The Hounds go back on the road next weekend for a tough trip to the undefeated Charleston Battery (4-0-2, 14 points). Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. Fans will be able to watch the game at the Highmark Stadium sports bar or live via Riverhounds.com.
Tickets for this month’s home games against the Richmond Kickers on May 16 and the Harrisburg City Islanders on May 30 are still available. Visit Riverhounds.com for details or call the Highmark Stadium box office on (412) 325-7241 to speak to a ticket representative.