The Riverhounds SC are going to rest for a bit as they host Hartford Athletic FC in the regular season final at Highmark Stadium.
Although the Hounds secured a playoff berth a few weeks ago, there is still a lot to be gained as they try to keep up their hopes of having a playoff home game.
Here are the playoff scenarios ahead of Saturday’s game:
• If the Hounds win AND Charlotte loses or ties in Austin, we open the home playoffs against Memphis on Saturday November 6th at 7:00 pm.
• Any other combination of results means we will open the Central Division second place team playoffs (Birmingham or Louisville), date and time to be determined.
A last daring position?
As the Riverhounds-Hartford game draws to a close, if the Hounds walk away with three points, they will climb the standings, two points ahead of Charlotte.
Then at 9 p.m. Independence kicks off in Texas, as Pittsburgh football fans will surely turn their attention to this game.
Charlotte will face a club, Austin Bold FC, who could presumably play their last game in Austin – as the news broke this week.
Club sources say the @AustinBoldFC The owner informed players and staff this morning that the team will not be playing after this season. The move to Fort Worth is underway but depends on the stadium being built so that may not happen next year. More soon at @TheStrikerTexas
– Roberto Silva (@rsilvasoccer) October 26, 2021
There is a lot at stake in his inter-conference game.
For Austin, who beat Pittsburgh at Highmark Stadium earlier this year, he needs to win to have any chance of making the playoffs as he is currently three points behind fourth Rio Grande Valley FC and two behind New Mexico United. Austin holds the tiebreaker against the Toros and will be watching closely what happens elsewhere during the action.
Charlotte is on a six-game unbeaten streak as she heads to Texas following Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Loudoun United FC that put the team one point ahead of the Hounds.
It’s a club that has always been a thorn in the side of the Hounds, and they are also determined to win a home game in the playoffs.
“It will be huge for us, obviously for the club,” said attacking midfielder Enzo Martinez. “People are starting to come to the game more and more so I think if we could have a playoff game it would be huge for the club and the city and for the people to enjoy such an event. … Like last year, no one thought much of us until the end when we made that huge effort to take the field advantage in the playoffs. This year it is the same. We have one more game and we are in control of our own destiny, it would be great and a huge advantage for us to host the first round.
Bold FC will be an easy team to recruit for the most loyal Hounds on Saturday, as they are coached by former Riverhounds goaltender Ryan Thompson, who had a memorable season in Pittsburgh in 2015.
Interestingly, Thompson is the first Jamaican head coach in the USL Championship league, and only the second black head coach.
I’m sure some of his old friends from Pittsburgh will support Thompson and Bold FC.
Steel Army to honor its player of the year
As they do before every last regular season home game, the Hounds fan group will honor their Player of the Year.
It will be very interesting to see how the Army vote goes, as Russell Cicerone and Alex Dixon are certainly in the running, but there could be cases for Danny Griffin and Kenardo Forbes as well.
It’s the closest match the Hounds have ever played at home on Halloween day – so it should also be interesting to see how some members of the military – and other Hounds fans dress for it. occasion of Saturday.
- Hounds forward Russell Cicerone leads the team with 16 goals and is second to the Hounds with eight assists this season. Thanks to Wednesday’s play, he was the only USL Championship player in the top 10 in both categories.
- Midfielder / winger Alex Dixon has scored nine goals and nine assists after adding his team to the assist lead with the assist over the winner of Cicerone’s game last Saturday against Charleston . Dixon and Cicerone both have a shot at being the Hounds’ first player with a season of 10 goals and 10 assists; closest to doing so was Kevin Kerr with 10 goals and nine assists in 2015.
- Goalkeeper Danny Vitiello has eight shutouts this season following his most recent Wednesday against Miami FC. That gives him 13 clean sheets since joining the Hounds in early 2020, placing him fourth in club history.
- Midfielder Danny Griffin is the only player to start every game this season for the Hounds, and he’s only played 12 minutes so far in 2021. Four more have appeared in every game: Cicerone, Dixon, the midfielder Todd Wharton and defender Shane Wiedt. . Assuming he appears in Saturday’s game, Griffin will have played in every game for the Hounds in his two seasons with the club.
- Midfielder Kenardo Forbes is third on the team with six assists this season, and his USL Championship record of 45 career assists is under pressure from one of his opponents today, Danny Barrera of Hartford. Barrera, who leads the league with 12 assists this season, has 44 in his career after registering an assist in Hartford’s last game against Charleston.
- In 124 appearances in all competitions under Bob Lilley, the Hounds have allowed just 111 goals, an average of 0.90 goals per