The playoff race is heating up, and earning maximum points at home is critical for Alan Koch’s side this Saturday against the Riverhounds. FC Cincinnati has never lost to Pittsburgh, but their Pennsylvania rival comes into this Labor Day weekend matchup in the best form of their recent history. Orange and Blue Press caught up with John Krysinsky of the Pittsburgh Soccer Report to answer a few questions about the Riverhounds ahead of Saturday’s contest.
For more details and interesting stats about Saturday’s matchup, also check out: Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds
MW: The Riverhounds come into this match in good form, having won three straight, including two on the road. What’s behind their recent strong results?
JK: “A lot of credit to this recent positive run for the Hounds lies in the fact that they have found the right chemistry and line-up combination in the attack. The back line, led by Trinidad veteran Jamal Jack has kept the team in games all season, but now that head coach Dave Brandt has settled in on the same six in MF and at the top, they’ve been clicking. Hertzog is starting get back into form with three goals in the past two games, after struggling for much of June and July where at one point he hit the woodwork in four straight games.”
MW: Hertzog seems like Pittsburgh’s clear danger man, with USL Player of the Week Kevin Kerr his most likely provider, who else should FC Cincinnati fans be worried about on Saturday?
JK: “On any given night, it seems like the Hounds can get contributions from the two attacking midfielders (Kerr and Parkes), or the two forwards (Chevy Walsh and Hertzog). Walsh is second on the team in goals with five, only after getting his first start on June 22 vs Tampa Bay. He’s a big bodied, hold-up forward, who has ability to finish from distance and win balls in the air.”
MW: Romeo Parkes returned to Pittsburgh in May after being released last year for the incident with NYRBII. How important has his return been?
JK: “Dropping Parkes back into the midfield is finally starting to pay dividends, as the Jamaican reminds me a lot of Ya Ya Toure in this role, where he can slide into the central MF, distribute, but also be a dangerous scorer from various points. The holding midfielders, Victor Souto and Stephen Okai, have also been playing very well of late too, and now that they’ve been in the line-up together for four or five straight games, you can see their chemistry is better.”
MW: Anything else we should know about the Riverhounds going into Saturday’s contest?
“Souto, a young player from Brazil, who played at Akron, is probably the one player on the Hounds that MLS teams may have an eye on for next year. He’s really rounding into a solid pro.”
A big thanks to John Krysinsky for his contribution and insights. Head over to his website for all things Riverhounds and Pittsburgh soccer. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the penultimate home game of the 2017 season.