The Pittsburgh Riverhounds back line had tightened up in recent weeks with only one penalty kick goal being conceded in the past four games.
That form unraveled Sunday afternoon amid sweltering temperatures at Montreal Impact’s Stade Saputo training field as F.C. Montreal earned a 4-2 win over the Hounds.
Boris Zivanovic and Rob Vincent were on target for Pittsburgh to pull the Hounds level twice after conceding early goals in each half. Drew Russell had a half-chance to notch a late equalizer before the hosts scored on a decisive counter attack in the waning minutes.
The loss drops fifth-placed Pittsburgh to a 7-6-4 record (25 points) in the USL’s Eastern Conference. Bottom side Montreal climbs to 2-11-2 (eight points).
Head coach Mark Steffens shook up his starting 11 after Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Toronto F.C. II. Serbian winger Zivanovic was handed his first league start with Matt Dallman replacing Kevin Kerr on the right of midfield.
Vini Dantas and Lebo Moloto returned after sitting in midweek. Canadian forward Miro Cabrilo and Mike Green dropped to the substitutes’ bench.
The Hounds started the game positively with captain Danny Earls firing the first shot over the bar after cute set-up play inside the penalty area by Zivanovic and Dantas.
Montreal jumped ahead though via a sharp counter attack on seven minutes. Romario Williams carried the ball at a shorthanded Hounds back line before slipping Anthony Jackson-Hamel through on the left of the 18-yard box for a cool finish into Calle Brown’s far corner.
Pittsburgh bounced back on 14 minutes when Zivanovic notched his first Hounds goal to complete an excellent, lengthy passing sequence.
Space arose for Willie Hunt to advance on the right side after the Hounds had recycled possession. He found Dantas in the clear further up the wing. The Brazilian forward drove in a low cross that Zivanovic converted at the back post on the slide.
Fabio Morelli carved out a great chance for the hosts to retake the lead three minutes later with his dangerous inswinging cross. Alessandro Riggi bailed the Hounds out by sending his header over Brown’s crossbar.
Moloto forced Montreal goalkeeper Eric Kronberg to tip his shot away three minutes before halftime after another impressive move from the visitors.
The Hounds fell behind again two minutes after the interval when Montreal left-back Zachary Sukunda pushed forward before finding Marco Dominguez at the edge of the penalty area. The midfielder thumped a scorching drive off the underside of Brown’s crossbar that landed over the goal line before bouncing out.
Pittsburgh again responded quickly to draw level. Fejiro Okiomah’s long cross-field switch on 56 minutes found Vincent in a 1-vs-1 against Janouk Charbonneau. The Englishman cut inside the penalty area and drew a foul that gave him the chance to net a penalty kick against the Canadians for the second time in three weeks.
Vincent stroked his kick low to the goalkeeper’s left during Pittsburgh’s 1-0 win at Highmark Stadium on June 20. He found the same spot to tie the game at 2-2.
Montreal took the lead for the third time on 72 minutes after a scramble in the Hounds penalty that was not cleared. Brown made a superb save from an early effort before Riggi tucked the ball away inside the near post.
Brown kept the Hounds alive on 86 minutes with a great stop to deny Jackson-Hamel on a breakaway. Kronberg came up big at the other end two minutes later when substitute Russell closed in on goal.
That proved to be a decisive play. Montreal broke up field with two minutes remaining and Jackson-Hamel stroked home his second goal of the afternoon to complete the scoring.
The Hounds return to Highmark Stadium next Saturday, July 18, to face Louisville City F.C. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
FIFA Women’s World Cup winner Meghan Klingenberg will be our special guest for the evening. The United States defender will share her World Cup experiences with Club Level guests as part of our pre-game buildup beginning at 5:30 p.m. Club Level guests will also be given a private photo and autograph session with Klingenberg. Proceeds will benefit the MK Foundation.