The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ preparations for the new USL season continued Sunday with a 1-1 tie against the University of Akron at Highmark Stadium.
Scottish midfielder Kevin Kerr continued his impressive goalscoring form with a headed equalizer on the stroke of half-time after Israeli forward Adi Dakwar had given the reigning Mid-American Conference champions an early lead.
“We needed a test like this to expose the things we don’t do well,” said Riverhounds head coach Mark Steffens. “Akron pressed us early on and we didn’t handle it well.
“That’s a good lesson for us.”
The Riverhounds created some early chances despite their initial struggles. Rob Vincent fired a volley wide from Kerr’s cross. Kene Eze failed to pick out Danny Earls with his cutback after rounding Zips goalkeeper Jake Fenlason. Kerr then saw his sliding shot deflected against the visitors’ crossbar.
Akron responded by taking the lead on 15 minutes. Freshman Dakwar fastened onto a through ball before steering a low finish beyond Hounds goalkeeper Ryan Hulings.
Three players were cautioned in the opening period as play became feisty. Fejiro Okiomah and Earls were booked for the Hounds after Akron’s Andrew Souders had received a yellow card for a trip on the Irishman.
Kerr’s leveler on 45 minutes provided a fitting end to a terrific flowing move. Tyler Pasher accelerated around the right side of the Zips defense before curling an inviting ball to the back post. Kerr attacked it with venom to power a header beyond Fenlason.
Steffens again made numerous changes after the break as the Hounds began to control the game territorially and in terms of possession. Akron twice came closest to notching a winner though.
Sophomore midfielder Adam Najem saw his floated cross strike substitute goalkeeper Calle Brown’s crossbar on 60 minutes. The former University of Virginia stopper kept the hosts level with one minute remaining when he spread his 6-foot-5-inch frame to deny Richie Laryea on a Zips breakaway.
The Hounds’ preseason slate ends next Saturday when the University of Charleston, W.Va. travels to Pittsburgh for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Admission is free.
Harrisburg City Islanders visit Highmark Stadium on March 28 to provide the opponent for the Riverhounds’ first USL regular season game of the year.