"We didn't start the game with intensity."
And sometimes, as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds learned Sunday evening against the Charlotte Independence in Matthews, N.C., that's all it takes. That quote up there was from Hounds head coach Bob Lilley, and he spoke to the cold start the Hounds endured. His team came out flat, the Independence capitalized, and the match was a wrap 23 minutes in.
"We were reacting to the game," Lilley continued. "We let them play whatever they wanted in our end. When we do that, we're ordinary and we get ourselves in trouble."
That's disappointing for the Hounds, because they've been anything but ordinary over the past month. They're now 4-1 in their last five, with those four wins coming by a combined score of 13-1. The momentum was real, and they climbed from No. 12 to No. 8 in the USL Eastern Conference standings for their efforts.
But making Sunday's defeat doubly disappointing is this fact: The Hounds outplayed the Independence at Highmark Stadium back in May but left with nothing but a draw to show for it. The Hounds played 10-on-11 for the majority of that weather-delayed match, down defender Joe Greenspan after he racked up two yellow cards in succession.
They led that one in shots, shots on target and corners taken, but the score still read 0-0 by match's end. Sunday evening, then, felt like a chance for the Hounds to prove they were the superior squad all along.
"It's disappointing because I think it could have been a better performance if we competed out of the gate," Lilley said. "After the goal, we played more on even terms."
The damage was done by Independence midfielder Alex Martinez, who chipped a ball from outside the penalty box over Hounds goalkeeper Austin Pack. Neither team scored after his boot, and the 1-0 tally gave the Hounds just their third loss of the 2019 season. They fall to 6-3-7 and still hold No. 8 in the USL Eastern Conference standings.
• The Hounds weren't totally without opportunity. They had six total shots to the Independence's eight, but four of the Hounds' attempts were off target and the other two were blocked.
• The second half saw a 40-minute delay at the 80th minute due to lightning.
• The Hounds have allowed one goal or fewer in five straight matches.
• Up next: The Hounds return home to Highmark Stadium Saturday, July 13, to face the first-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (11-1-6). It's a rematch of the Hounds' season opener in Tampa, which they lost, 2-0.
• That match Saturday marks the Hounds' Hall of Fame Game, where they will honor the club's inaugural Hall of Fame class. Even better? The first 1,000 fans in attendance get a free rally towel.
• Tickets for that are available here.
Highlights from the Hounds' 1-0 loss to the Charlotte Independence
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) July 8, 2019
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