Manchester United reaches out to Riverhounds for video assistance
July 19, 2013 8:00 AM
Riverhounds Richard Costanzo, left, and Orlandco City Lions C.J. Sapong, right, race to catch the ball during the first half of the scoreless game at Highmark Stadium.
By Sam Werner Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Riverhounds CEO Jason Kutney saw an unusual request pop up Tuesday morning in his email inbox.
Manchester United -- yes, that Manchester United -- contacted the Riverhounds to request tape from their game tonight against Wigan Athletic. Manchester United plays Wigan Aug. 11 in the English Football Association Community Shield preseason match.
That's right, the most famous soccer club in the world is asking the Riverhounds for a little bit of help.
The Riverhounds will play Wigan, of the English Football League, at 7 p.m. today in a friendly at Highmark Stadium in Station Square as the Latics continue their preseason American tour.
Frank B. Fuhrer International Friendly: Riverhounds vs. Wigan Athletic, 7 p.m. today, Highmark Stadium, Station Square.
Coming off 0-0 draw Wednesday night vs. league-leading Orlando City. ... Draw snapped two-game losing streak. ... Forward Jose Angulo leads the team with 11 goals this season. ... Second of three games this week.
Played last year in the English Premier League, but 18th-place finish relegated them to play in the Football League Championship, England's second tier, next season. ... Won 2013 FA Cup with 1-0 victory against Manchester City in the final. ... Beat Columbus Crew of MLS, 2-1, Saturday and Dayton Dutch Lions of USL Pro, 6-1, Tuesday. ... Defender Roger Espinoza played in college at Ohio State.
"It's always exciting playing a team of that caliber," Riverhounds forward Jose Angulo said. "We're just looking forward to the experience."
Wigan played last season in the English Premier League, England's top league, but finished 18th and was relegated to play next season in the Football League Championship, the second tier of English football. Despite a poor result in the league, Wigan won the prestigious English FA Cup, the world's oldest soccer tournament. In the final, it beat 2012 Premier League champions Manchester City, 1-0, on a goal in stoppage time.
"Any time you get a chance to play a top team from around the world, it's awesome," Kutney said.
Retired Pittsburgh businessman Frank B. Fuhrer agreed to help sponsor the event, and Kutney said they are working to make this an annual summer event.
"Mr. Fuhrer, he's come to us and said he wants to make this something annual in Pittsburgh," Kutney said. "We're going to try and bring in the biggest names that we possibly can and just continue to excite the marketplace."
While the players and coaches are looking forward to the challenge of facing a side from one of the top leagues in the world, the match does come at a somewhat inconvenient time for the Riverhounds, who have two matches this week as they try to push into the playoff hunt.
They drew with league-leader Orlando City, 0-0, Wednesday, and face the Wilmington Hammerheads, who sit just a point behind them in the league standings, Sunday.
Riverhounds coach Justin Evans said he likely will use 22 players tonight, swapping out his whole lineup at halftime.
"In a perfect world, we'd have more space, we would've done this last week," Kutney said. "But, ... when you get a chance like this to bring in the FA Cup winners, you're not going to turn it down."
Wigan also will not play its full first-team lineup as it prepares for the upcoming season. Still, the Latics had enough firepower Tuesday night to take down the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL Pro, 6-1.
"I just hope we hold our own," Evans said. "It's a tough game for sure."