Kerr's goal sparks Riverhounds to 3rd consecutive win
Kevin Kerr has been doing everything for the Riverhounds this season except finding the net. The captain picked the right time to end that slump.
Kerr hustled to slide the ball over the goal line in the 75th minute after Chevy Walsh's header bounced off both uprights, and the Riverhounds came away with a chippy 3-2 win — their third in a row — over Bethlehem Steel on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
Corey Hertzog picked out Walsh with a cross from the left side, and Walsh's header struck the inside of the right post. The ball bounced all the way across to the left post, hitting it before Kerr beat everyone to the loose ball for his first goal since the season opener against New York.
“It was wearing on me a little bit (not scoring), so I'm glad it was a nice easy one,” Kerr said. “I kind of expected it to bounce off the post. I just gambled, and some nights they drop for you. Tonight was a good night for me.”
“We needed to get three points tonight, so for Chevy to get up for the header and Kevin to put it away because Chevy didn't do quite enough, it was a huge goal and a typical Kevin play,” Riverhounds coach Dave Brandt said.
The Riverhounds (8-8-9) hit their stride early, beginning with Kerr working his way down the left wing in the 10th minute. Hertzog had space at the far post, and Kerr found him for a clinical headed finish to take the lead.
The goal was Hertzog's 10th of the season, which makes him just the second player in Riverhounds history with back-to-back 10-goal seasons. His 23rd goal tied him with Phil Karn for the most by a U.S.-born player in club history.
Nine minutes later, the Riverhounds were up 2-0 from an unlikely source. After the Steel were unable to fully clear a corner kick, Kerr poked the ball to Jamal Jack, and the Jamaican center back blasted a shot from the top of the box that took a deflection and bounced into the net.
The already physical game soon escalated after the Steel (10-11-3) had a goal disallowed for fouling Riverhounds goalkeeper Matt Perrella, who made his first start for the team. While protesting the call, Bethlehem's Santi Moar grabbed and pulled the uniform of referee Tori Penso, yet he was only cautioned and not sent off after the incident.
That caused tempers to escalate further, and Moar remaining on the field came back to hurt the Riverhounds three minutes before halftime.
Moar got behind Riverhounds defender Ritchie Duffie and was tripped at the corner of the penalty area, setting up Cory Burke for a penalty kick to cut the lead to 2-1. Three Riverhounds received yellow cards before the end of the half, and the team needed to regroup at the break.
“When we went to the dressing room, we sat down and said, ‘Be calm. Let's not talk to the referee and just play this game,' “ Jack said.
“We had four guys on cards, which is an issue. We tried to tone it down, but you can't go silent and go to sleep. It was a tricky second half to handle,” Brandt said.
Burke tied the score with a counter-attack goal in the 72nd minute, catching the Riverhounds in a 2-on-2 situation and banking a shot in off the right post. The Riverhounds retook the lead shortly after, and Jack polished off an outstanding game by shutting down his countryman Burke and the rest of the Steel as they pushed forward late.
“I'm a player who plays like that all the time,” Jack said of facing Burke, who represented Jamaica at this year's Gold Cup. “I'll play like that against whoever, so it's easy for me to adapt against whoever comes against me.”
Among the Steel's starters was midfielder Maurice Edu, a player with 48 appearances for the U.S. national team. Edu played 45 minutes in his second game with the Steel, as the former MLS and Glasgow Rangers player attempts to come back from multiple injuries.
Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.