Riverhounds trying to rediscover chemistry
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The strength of the Riverhounds in 2013 has yet to find its stride this season.
Four games into the USL Pro season, the Riverhounds have allowed a league-high 10 goals, and the defensive woes are a big reason the club is still seeking its first win, when it hosts Charleston at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Riverhounds (0-2-2) reached the playoffs last season on the strength of a defense that allowed just 33 goals in 26 regular-season games, the fourth best mark in the league. The back line has yet to click as lineup shuffling and uncertain play has led to opponents getting plenty of scoring chances.
“We really need to get the guys' chemistry together,” Riverhounds coach Justin Evans said. “We've been changing the formation a little, trying to play with three guys in the back. We've just got to get more together with our shape and staying connected.”
One of Evans' biggest challenges is finding the right group for the starting lineup. In four matches, the Riverhounds have started seven different players on defense, and the team has yet to use the same combination twice.
The team also has shifted from the 4-4-2 formation it used almost exclusively last season to experiementing with a 3-5-2 formation. Though the attack has looked more potent at times with the additional midfielder, the gaps in the defense have lingered whether three or four players are stationed in the back.
“It's been frustrating. We have to clean things up, but we're only four games in, so it's still early,” said defender Mike Green, who has started three of the four games. “We've had some people in and out of the lineup, and it's been hard to find that chemistry, but we have to get it done no matter who is on the field.”
The lineup shuffling has led to communication trouble that has resulted in goals.
In the last two games against Wilmington and Richmond, the first goal conceded by the Riverhounds came on a shot from long distance. Multiple defenders were in good position both times, but no one stepped forward to close out the shooter, which allowed a clean look at the goal.
“You have to be comfortable knowing that if you step to the ball, there's going to be someone to cover behind you,” Evans said. “We need to be better at pressing the ball and not letting the player with it do what he wants to do. That's something we've worked on all this week.”
The Riverhounds did show improvement in defending set pieces.
After conceding two goals on free kicks and one from a corner kick in the first three games, the Riverhounds did a much better job against Richmond to allow fewer set pieces and defend the ones they faced.
“Last week against Richmond, we played much better than the first time we went down there,” Green said. “We're slowly starting to buy in to our system, playing-wise, and we just have to put in work. That's really what it comes down to — working for your teammates and wanting it more than the other team.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Penguins not mortgaging future
- No tag for Worilds; Steelers cut Moore
- Penguins acquire defensemen Lovejoy, Cole in deadline deals
- Penguins GM Rutherford not counting on Dupuis’ return
- Consumer spending dinged by declining gas prices
- Tribune-Review poll: Cable news rises as network news falls
- Pittsburgh’s Downtown tops ranking of small to midsized cities
- Inmate care in Allegheny County Jail generates worries
- Zoning update raises fears in Ligonier Township
- Shenefelt of North Huntingdon accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland
- Rangers up ante in Metropolitan Division with trade acquisitions