Friday, August 10, 2012
PITTSBURGH -- In their final home game of the season and at Chartiers Valley Stadium, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds fell 3-0 to the Charlotte Eagles on Friday night. A late first-half conversion from Nate Thornton put the visitors on top for good. Thwarting the Riverhounds attack throughout the game, the Eagles capitalized twice during stoppage time to end all chances for the Riverhounds to find the equalizer.
The game got off to a slow start as both clubs tried to maintain possession within the final third of their opponents half in order to build a solid attack. Physical challenges and defenders jumping passing lanes were consistent in the first half-hour of play as both sides had difficulty creating a clear-cut opening.
The Eagles were able to take advantage of the Riverhounds being unable to clear their lines in the 39th minute, opening the scoring. Thornton picked up a loose ball at the top of the Riverhounds' penalty area and shook his marker to score what would prove to be the decisive goal for the Eagles. A shifty lift of the ball by Thornton created enough space that he was able to volley home from the penalty spot.
The tempo of the game increased following the intermission, as both sides were able to try and hit on the counter-attack and through direct play as the game opened up. The Riverhounds were able to hit the post in the 66th minute, the closest they would come to an equalizer, but as the full-time whistle approached, the Eagles would find the back of the net.
Breaking quickly off a Riverhounds header on frame, the Eagles would add their insurance in the 90th minute. Mauricio Salles ran down a diagonal ball into the Riverhounds left corner and freed the ball to Miguel Ferrer. Playing a give-and-go with Darren Toby, Ferrer struck a first-time shot to the left of Riverhounds goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap. An unbelievable reaction saves from Gilstrap landed in the path of Chris Salvaggione, allowing him to pass the ball into the back of the net.
The Eagles would put the game out of reach in stoppage time. A crafty cut from Ferrer near midfield allowed the second-half substitute to slot a penetrating pass for streaking Salles. Piercing through the Riverhounds penalty area, Salles rifled a left-footed shot past Gilstrap for his second tally of the season.
The Riverhounds will open the 2013 season in Highmark Stadium, but will end this season next week on the road against the Rochester Rhinos. The Eagles will end a two-game road weekend in Dayton on Saturday night when they square off with the Dutch Lions. The Eagles were able to edge ahead of the Richmond Kickers into sixth place in the USL PRO standings, and will look to bolster their playoff hopes further when they visit Miami Valley South Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff that can be seen on USLNation.com.