Riverhounds offense stifled again

Futility persists in USL Pro play

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When the clock at Highmark Stadium hit 90 minutes Saturday night, there was a familiar figure under the home team's name: a zero.

The Riverhounds lost to Rochester, 1-0, their second consecutive USL Pro loss by that score and third league game in a row without a goal.

In fact, the Riverhounds' scoreless streak in USL Pro games dates all the way back to the 61st minute of an April 19 game against Richmond, a run of 299 minutes (plus stoppage time) without finding the net.

"I think we have good ball possession and maintain the ball well in the defensive third and the middle third, and then it seems as if we get to the attack and it's almost one and done," coach Justin Evans said. "We're not maintaining possession in the attacking third. We've got the players to do it, it's just trying to play that one final ball, a perfect ball, and it's not working right now. It's not clicking."

The Riverhounds created a few chances in the first half, but nothing that really tested the Rhinos' back line or goalkeeper. Forward Jose Angulo won a corner kick in the eighth minute with some nifty footwork near the goal line, but the ensuing kick couldn't find a target.

In the 32nd minute, Matt Dallman found Kevin Kerr near the penalty spot, but Kerr couldn't corral the cross and then committed a foul when he went to the ground.

"Our passes are pretty sharp and on point. It's just that little bit in the attacking third where we're not finding that one little, final pass," Evans said. "Obviously that's the toughest thing to do in soccer, finding the goal."

The Rhinos found the net in the 41st minute. On a cross into the box, Riverhounds goalkeeper Mike Lisch came off his line but couldn't hold on to the ball. Rochester's Colin Rolfe whiffed on a bouncing ball on the box, but Alex Dixon pounced on the second chance and pounded it into the back of the net.

With a 1-0 lead on the road, Rochester went into a defensive shell and didn't threaten much offensively for the rest of the game.

"That's typical for any team that's on the road, trying to preserve the win and see if they can just keep that clean sheet," Evans said. "We just have to find different ways to get in."

The Riverhounds had one last-gasp effort in stoppage time at the end of the second half, as forward Collins John blasted a free kick from 25 yards out that deflected off the wall and bounced just over the goal. The ensuing free kick was cleared easily and the final whistle sounded.

As the goalless streak continues and the Riverhounds continue to search for their first USL Pro win of the season, Evans said he won't let the struggles get to his team.

"I'm not going to sit here and dwell on the negative because it's going to do nothing good for us," he said. "I've just got to continue to take a look at it and see what we can do, how we can fix it."

Angulo took an even more positive approach to the team's offensive woes.

"That's just the game," he said. "I'm pretty sure once it rains, it pours, though."

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG


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