PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ winless start to the United Soccer Leagues Pro Division season reached seven games Saturday after the Rochester Rhinos left Highmark Stadium with a single-goal victory.
The Riverhounds’ affiliation with Houston Dynamo has resulted in five Major League Soccer loanees donning a Pittsburgh jersey this season. It was Alex Dixon, a Dynamo Academy product sporting Rochester’s white change shirt, who made the decisive impact during an untidy contest.
Dixon thumped home a loose ball on 40 minutes after on-loan goalkeeper Michael Lisch fumbled a swirling cross amid blustery conditions on the banks of the Monongahela River.
Rochester played out the remainder of the game in containment mode, packing the midfield and preventing an uninspired Pittsburgh side from making penetrating passes in the final third. The loss leaves the Riverhounds at the foot of the USL standings.
Diminutive winger Dixon almost caused former Rhino Danny Earls to bundle the ball into his own net with a driven cross on 24 minutes. Earls was soon troubled by another teasing center from the 24-year-old before Pittsburgh scrambled the ball away.
The Riverhounds almost capitalized on a weak clearance from visiting goalkeeper John McCarthy on 33 minutes. Anthony Obodai and Matt Dallman combined to set up Kevin Kerr inside the penalty area. Rochester defender Kyle Hoffer shut down the Scottish midfielder before he could swivel into a strike at goal.
High winds were making life difficult for both teams during the first half. The conditions led to Rochester’s game-winner five minutes before the interval.
Lisch misjudged the flight of a high ball hoisted toward his six-yard line. Colin Rolfe, another ex-Houston Dynamo forward, missed his kick on the initial opportunity before Dixon lashed the ball into Pittsburgh’s net.
Riverhounds head coach Justin Evans introduced Collins John to his attack after the interval with Joseph Ngwenya dropping out. John created a chance from Anthony Arena’s long ball on 53 minutes. The former Fulham striker outmuscled Hoffer before turning into space inside the penalty area. Rhinos right-back Pat McMahon launched himself into a sensational covering block.
The visitors dropped deep in the second half, particularly after Dixon left the field following a collision with Obodai on 70 minutes.
Pittsburgh’s best hope of salvaging a point seemed likely to be from a set play. Dallman wasted a 20-yard free kick with a tame side-footed shot into the wall, and John’s late effort clipped Rochester’s defensive guard on its way over McCarthy’s crossbar.
Back-to-back road games await the Riverhounds next Friday and Saturday with trips to the Wilmington Hammerheads and Charleston Battery.
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