Something was seriously amiss Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
For one, the Riverhounds were rolling toward what would wind up as their ridiculously overdue first win of 2016, a 2-1 doubling of Toronto FC II. They were aggressive, cohesive and, hey, a heck of a lot more impressive than when they failed to win any of their first seven USL games, then were humiliated by that amateur pub club from Yonkers earlier this week.
For another, all through the weekend, not a soul was speaking about the fate of Mark Steffens, the beloved but beleaguered head coach. I'd ask someone a question, and they'd either look away or walk away.
And then, in the strangest sight of all, when the Hounds broke through a stout Toronto back line in the 68th minute on this bending beauty out of the corner by Lebo Moloto ...
... it wasn't just Moloto's teammates who swarmed him to celebrate, but also Steffens, his assistants Niko Katic and Josh Rife, and the entire roster that leaped off the bench and ran down the pitch for a group hug:
"It was a big moment," Moloto would tell me right afterward. "Very emotional."
It wasn't until the coach stepped to the podium for his press conference that everyone finally found out why: Steffens was out.