Riverhounds need two wins to escape the cellar

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Time is running out for the Riverhounds to make any sort of late-season push for a playoff spot, but if they do want to make a run toward respectability, it has to start this weekend.

The Riverhounds will take the field tonight against Dayton and have another match Tuesday against the Dutch Lions in Dayton, Ohio.

As they have been all season, the Riverhounds sit in last place in the 13-team USL Pro. The Dutch Lions, though, haven’t fared much better and are just three points ahead of the Riverhounds in the standings.

A pair of wins in this two-game stretch would lift the Riverhounds out of last place for the first time this season. Two wins, though, would be a tall order for a team that has won just once in 14 matches.

The Riverhounds hoped to have turned a corner earlier this month with a 3-2 victory June 7 against Rochester, but since then have gone 0-2-1 under interim coach Niko Katic.

After his team’s most recent game, a 3-1 loss Sunday against Richmond, Katic criticized his team for having “no heart” and “no passion.” This week, he was slightly more upbeat and optimistic.

“I think they’re looking sharp,” Katic said, per the team’s website. “We worked a lot on defensive shape, attacking things, creating interchangeable runs up front, man marking, stuff like that.”

The Dutch Lions present enough attacking options to make things potentially difficult for the Riverhounds.

Dayton is led by forward Aaron Schoenfeld, who is tied for third in the league with eight goals this season.

Katic said the team has focused on man marking this week, hoping to avoid defensive miscues that led to two early goals in the loss to Richmond.

Most importantly, Katic hopes a renewed focus will lead to something that hasn’t happened this year: a win at Highmark Stadium. The Riverhounds’ only victory came on the road, and with only six home games left this season, time is running out.

“I think [the team] looks sharp,” he said. “Hopefully they show up tomorrow. I’m sure they will give it their best and leave their heart out there for the organization and for the fans.”

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

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