Hounds

Forbes’ big blast powers Hounds, 4-1

The Riverhounds’ creative Jamaican midfielder fired the go-ahead goal just a minute before halftime, and the Hounds pulled away from the Bethlehem Steel.

Kenardo Forbes distributes the ball in the Hounds' 4-1 win over Bethlehem Steel on Friday. - RIVERHOUNDS SC

Kenardo Forbes might have teams thinking twice about considering him just a playmaker.

Forbes, the Riverhounds’ creative Jamaican midfielder, fired the go-ahead goal just a minute before halftime, sending his shot from 25 yards out into the top right corner of the net, and the Hounds pulled away from Bethlehem Steel FC in the second half for a 4-1 win Friday night at Highmark Stadium.

It was only the second goal of the season for Forbes, and it came not long after James Chambers had tied the game for the Steel (12-12-6) by converting a penalty kick. But it was the momentum swing the Hounds (13-4-10) needed to snap a four-game winless streak and move — at least until Louisville plays tomorrow — back into second place in the Eastern Conference.

“I saw they were giving me a lot of space, and I didn’t see any pass, so I just decided to shoot and it went in,” Forbes said. “I kept calling the whole time, ‘Neco (Brett), wait, wait.’ Luckily, he passed it to me, and I got the goal to get us the lead.”

Forbes’ only other goal of the season, the game-winner at Louisville on June 27, shows he can look for a goal when needed. He is the Hounds’ assists leader with eight on the season, but coach Bob Lilley wants to see him add that extra layer to his game — he had two other shots on goal Friday — which will make the veteran that much harder to defend.

“That was the challenge for tonight. Coach said we need more than one when it’s in the box, not just Neco, not just Romeo (Parkes). He challenged me all week to get in the box and try to score more goals and stop being passive,” Forbes said. “He challenged me, and I think I stepped up tonight.”

Forbes’ creativity was on display throughout the game, controlling play with the ball at his feet and distributing efficiently. The performance wasn’t lost on his coach, either.

“Kenny, if we’re playing well, will get in dangerous spots, and Kenny will also get people in dangerous spots. You could play him at left back, and he would probably run the game,” Lilley said.

Right back Jordan Dover, who scored the game’s final goal, said Forbes makes the game simpler for everyone around him.

“Honestly, playing with Kenny is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. Literally, give him the ball and pretty much run forward. It’s just waiting for the ball to appear back in front of my feet. It’s always nice playing with him. His vision is amazing,” Dover said.

SPREADING THE WEALTH

The scoring was far from a one-man show for the Hounds, and the goals came from all parts of the field.

Joe Greenspan got the scoring started with his second goal of the season. The 6-foot-6 center back began his run toward the back post before cutting inside to head in a well-served free kick from Ben Zemanski.

It was a good run by left back Ray Lee that drew the foul, and the sequence had the Hounds ahead after only 17 minutes.

Brett tried to be a playmaker yet couldn’t help but score in the 76th minute. He tried to distribute the ball to substitute Noah Franke making a wider run, but his pass was blocked and fell to his left. Brett was first to react, and he stroked a left-footed shot into the side of the net for his 14th goal of the season, which puts the Robert Morris grad in a tie for fourth in USL goals.

Three minutes later, Dover closed out the scoring when Lee hit a picture-perfect cross from the left side to the back post. The ball was just out of the reach of Steel goalkeeper John McCarthy, and Dover hammered it into the net.

The final tally? Goals from a center back, a midfielder, a striker and an outside back.

“I think it just goes to show how dangerous we can be,” Dover said. “If we have players scoring from all over the field, you never know where the attack is going to come from, and that makes it hard for other teams to defend us.”

ANSWERING ADVERSITY

The Hounds showed some resolve by bouncing back after the Steel’s goal. The penalty, which was called against Greenspan for tripping Faris Moumbagna, drew protests from the players and the crowd, especially after some physical play had been allowed on the other end only a minute later.

“Our center backs are going up for head balls every game and getting bridged. There’s no attempt to play the ball, teams are chopping us, and it’s reckless. It’s dangerous, and it should repeatedly bring cards,” Lilley said. “And we’re getting called for touch fouls. I haven’t seen the replay — Joe may have got some of it — but a big, strong guy went down pretty easy, and I think it was a generous call.”

Chambers, a veteran of the Scottish Premier League and the top division in his native Ireland, slotted the ball into the left side of the net for a goal on the Steel’s first shot of the game in the 35th minute.

But the Hounds responded, keeping the visitors on their heels for the remaining 10 minutes before Forbes’ go-ahead strike. The penalty would be the one and only Steel shot in the first half, despite the Hounds’ only having the slimmest of possession advantages at 51-49.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Lilley still had some critical words for his team after the game, however. While the flow offensively was good, the Steel were able to push forward on the counter — often after Hounds turnovers — which resulted in possession for the game finishing an even 50-50.

“In my mind, the last three games against Tampa, Indy and Cincy were tighter. Maybe this is how, as long as we’re being sloppy, we’ll just take our chances we’re not going to get punished,” Lilley said. “It was a game we had well in hand … but you can’t go up 1-0 and make mistakes to allow a team back in it. … There was no pressure, the game was starting to stretch, and that’s where, at 2-1, I was trying to pull us back and solidify it, because they were picking up all the second balls. Fortunately, we got the third goal before we got picked off.”

Lilley went on to say he thinks the team will need a better performance in eight days if they are to complete a season sweep against Louisville at home, but the Hounds showed they can put up a fight in a more open game.

The Hounds finished with a commanding 24-6 advantage in total shots, and Mike Kirk needed to make only one save in the Hounds net compared to five for McCarthy. Corner kicks were 4-2 in the Hounds’ favor, and the Hounds got on the end of 5 of 17 crosses, as opposed to just 1 of 10 for the Steel.