In a tightly contested match on Friday night at Highmark Stadium, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds fell to Orlando City 1-0.
The match will likely be remembered most for a controversial call in the 75th minute.
Trailing 1-0, the Riverhounds had a great opportunity after some quality combination play down the left side, a ball was sent to the middle of the box for midfielder Matt Dallman. As Dallman went for the ball, he was tackled by Orlando’s Yordany Alvarez appearing to not make contact with the ball.
Referee Kevin Terry Jr. blew the whistle and appeared to signal for a foul and a penalty kick. He even booked Alvarez for a yellow card.
As the Orlando City players disputed the call, Terry Jr. checked with his lineman for his point of view. After a lengthy discussion, the call was overturned, and a drop ball was ensued about 12 yards from the goal.
“I’ve never seen a call (like that) in my life. Somehow, I’ve never seen that,” said a flabbergasted Justin Evans, Riverhounds Head Coach.
“He (Terry Jr.) said he didn’t see it clearly. But he went to the linesman, who was in the dark.”
The Riverhounds played strong through most of the match, able to keep possession for long stretches against the top team in USL PRO, leading to some quality chances as Evans implemented a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Under pressure from the Pittsburgh attack, Orlando finished the match with 19 fouls. The Riverhounds couldn’t take advantage of multiple free kick opportunities.
Orlando took the early lead in the 14th minute as Kevin Molino chipped a ball over Riverhounds goalkeeper Michael Lisch after receiving a through ball from Dennis Chin.
Chin was able to take advantage of a poor clearance by Lisch, to set up Molino, with his USL PRO leading 5th goal of the season.
“That’s why Kevin Molino is a dangerous player. We just got out of shape for that one minute. It was a bad giveaway, and when you do that against a team like this, they usually put it away, and they did,” said Evans.
The Riverhounds were able to create some hardship on the Lions defense in the 1st half, with 6 shots. Under some pressure from the Riverhounds forwards Joseph Ngwenya and Jose Angulo, Orlando was called for nine fouls in the first 45 minutes, as midfielder Anthony Pulis was responsible for three of them.
The Riverhounds outshot the Lions 12-11 with a more aggressive approach, leading to Orlando City being called for more fouls, 19-11.
With the defeat, the Riverhounds (0-3-3) remain at the bottom of the USL PRO standings. Earning another three points with the road win, Orlando City (6-0-2) currently has a six point edge over 2nd place LA Galaxy II at the top of the table.
The Riverhounds will return to action on Wednesday night at Highmark Stadium in the 2nd Round of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against the New York Red Bull U-23.