The Pittsburgh Riverhounds came up short in their quest to earn a USL PRO playoff spot, losing to Arizona United SC, 2-1 before a lively crowd in their season finale at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night.
A pair of goals by Long Tan to capped an Arizona comeback victory, and a disappointing home finale for the Riverhounds.
“That’s the way it goes, the boys gave it their all, and that’s all you can ask for,” said
Riverhounds interim Head Coach Niko Katic.
Tan scored the decisive goal in the 75th minute of a tightly played, back and forth contest. After receiving a perfectly placed through ball in stride, Tan was able to move past a lunging Hunter Gilstrap for the crucial lead.
Just minutes before, the Riverhounds had probably their best chance to regain the lead.
Gilstrap threw a long ball to Matt Dallman along the right flank. With tons of space, Dallman made an open field run to play a ball to Jose Angulo near the box. Angulo to drew a pair of defenders, played a ball back to Dallman, who crossed it to a wide-open Rob Vincent.
Vincent’s header was on target, but stopped by Arizona’s goalkeeper Evan Newton.
The Hounds mounted a few late chances including a Seth C’deBaca shot from distance and a Mike Green bicycle attempt on a Dallman cross, but that would be it.
The outset of the match looked extremely promising for the Riverhounds.
Taking advantage of their first corner kick of the night in the 6th minute, Danny Earls sent an in-swinging, left-footed ball that a leaping Miro Cabrilo headed solidly into the net to beat Newton.
It was Cabrilo’s second goal of the season — and his second on a header from a corner. The Robert Morris University product scored the lone goal of the Hounds big win at Charlotte on August 29.
But within minutes, momentum was lost as Arizona struck back.
In the 12th minute, Tan scored the equalizer, beating defender Sterling Flunder by making a nifty move to his right to create enough space to drill a shot just inside the right post, past a diving Hunter Gilstrap.
In the 21st minute, it looked like the Hounds had pulled back into the lead, as Angulo put in a rebound from a Flunder shot, but was called offside.
In the 37th minute, after intercepting a pass, Kevin Kerr made a nice run into the box, laid a pass to his left to Angulo, who fired a point blank one-time shot right at Newton who held on for the save.
Starting eleven for the Riverhounds included Hunter Gilstrap (GK), Matt Dallman, Andrew Ribeiro, Anthony Arena, Sterling Flunder, Rob Vincent, Kevin Kerr, Danny Earls, Miro Cabrilo, Mike Green and Jose Angulo.
Seth C’deBaca entered the match in 57th minute for Cabrilo. Mackenzie Pridham came in for Angulo in the 77th minute.
Earls was booked in the 26th minute with a yellow card. Kerr was booked in stoppage time in 1st half. Vincent took out Tan in late stages, drawing a yellow.
The United held the edge in shots (13-9), to take both meetings with the Riverhounds this season.
Prior to the game, the Riverhounds presented their year-end awards. Earls took home the Steel Army Supporters Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors, while Arena received Defensive Player of the Year.
With the loss, the Riverhounds (9-14-5) finish the 28-game campaign with 32 points.