Time for final push for playoff berth

RIVERHOUNDS

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Over the past few weeks, the Riverhounds have come oh so close to making a late-season playoff push, but they can't seem to get a win that will get them over the hump and into legitimate contention.

Last week, they pasted the Real Salt Lake Reserves, 5-2, behind a Jose Angulo hat trick, but followed that up with a 5-0 loss at Sacramento that once again left the Riverhounds on the fringes of the USL Pro playoff hunt.

They will try one more time to get back in the hunt tonight at Highmark Stadium against the Los Angeles Galaxy II.

Angulo, the Riverhounds' leading scorer and reigning league MVP, was injured early in the loss against Sacramento and had to leave the game.

His status for tonight is unclear.

"Jose's an amazing player, so that changed a lot, but, as a team, you can't depend on a guy," Riverhounds coach Niko Katic told the team's website after the Sunday game.

"As a team, we kept fighting ... but we couldn't get a break."

The Riverhounds might be in second-to-last place in the USL Pro standings, but they are not out of the playoff hunt.

They are four points behind Orange County for the eighth and final playoff spot, but the Blues have one game in hand on the Riverhounds.

The Riverhounds made an attempt to bolster their defense this week by signing Andrew Ribeiro Tuesday. He played for Harrisburg last season and was released by MLS's Chivas USA earlier this season.

Ribeiro has been on trial with the Riverhounds for the past two weeks.

"Andrew is a good, solid defender that can play either central or outside back for us," Katic said in a statement.

"We were pleased with his work rate, attitude, dedication, and ability and think he'll be able to help us down the final stretch here."

The Riverhounds' opponent tonight, Galaxy II, is the reserve team for the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS.

The team used to play in the MLS Reserve League, and won the West Division title in 2012 and 2013. This year, the squad moved up to a full-time USL Pro team.

The transition has been smooth. Galaxy II is third in USL Pro and second in the league with 42 goals scored this season.

The Riverhounds' defense, meanwhile, is licking its wounds.

They gave up three goals in the four games before the West Coast trip, but gave up seven in two games last week

"It's a wake-up call for us," Katic said of the loss to Sacramento.

"We have to go back to Pittsburgh and work our [butts] off against L.A. Galaxy [II] to get on the winning road."

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


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