The calendar says September and somehow Hartford Athletic is hitting the road for just the third time this season. Hartford will get a rematch with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night, looking to close the six point gap the first-place Hounds have on your Boys in Green. Head Coach Radhi Jaïdi's squad is coming in off a 2-1 win over Loudoun United last Saturday, but this is the last week-long break Hartford will have for the rest of the season. Starting Saturday, Athletic will play 7 matches in 23 days. This stretch will be the most challenging of the season for Hartford as they make the push towards the playoffs.
HARTFORD ATHLETIC (6-2-1) at PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC (8-3-1)
Date: Saturday, September 12th
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Location: Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Local TV: WCTX MyTV9
International Viewers: YouTube
LAST TIME OUT:
In the fourth meeting with Loudoun United this season, Athletic came out on top 2-1 thanks to a Gabi Torres winner! Loudoun took an early lead in the 4th minute. Josh Fawole tucked it past Goalkeeper Parfait Mandanda for his first career goal. In the 17th minute, Arthur Rogers saw an opening, took a couple of touches and fired home a shot from well outside the box! In the 75th minute, it was a defender who popped up at the back post. Gabi Torres made a long run and was there to tap in an Alex Lara cross to give Hartford the lead in the 76th minute!
The halftime scores of Hartford Athletic matches have been very indicative of the final score in 2020. Hartford has a record of 6-0-0 when either winning or tied at halftime. On the other end of that, Hartford has a record of 0-2-1 when trailing at the half. Getting on the board first also seems to be important as Hartford owns a record of 4-0-0 in matches where they score first. Hartford has failed to score first in each of their last 3 matches, but have come away with one win, one draw, and one loss in the 3 matches.
When Hartford and Pittsburgh met a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh became the first Club to bring a former Hartford player into Dillon Stadium in a new uniform. Defender Raymond Lee played and started 30 matches for Hartford in the Club’s inaugural season in 2019. He was second on the squad in minutes played and tied for the team lead in assists with 4. However, Lee isn’t the only face familliar to Hartford fans. Riverhounds midfielder Danny Griffin, who scored Pittsburgh’s second goal in the 3-0 win against Hartford, is a native of Wethersfield, Connecticut which is neighbors Hartford directly to the South. Griffin celebrated in front of family and friends after his goal.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Hartford Athletic, Justin Haak, MF, #80:
On Wednesday, Hartford announced the addition of 18-year-old midfielder Justin Haak on loan from NYCFC. Haak is a great talent and a welcome presence on a squad that is in need of more depth. Hartford will play 7 matches in the next 23 days and keeping everyone fresh will be key to making a run to the postseason. He has had a week to adjust to his new teammates and that will be key as his first match will likely be one of the toughest Hartford plays all season.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Danny Vitello, GK, #1:
The Hounds have an embarrassment of riches in net between Vitello and Tomas Gomez who started the last time these teams met. But Vitello is expected to start after recording two consecutive clean sheets, and three in four starts this season. Vitello was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week for his standout performances and should provide a real challenge for the Hartford attack who failed to score in the last meeting between the two teams.
ABOUT THE OPPONENT:
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC enter this match red hot, going 4-0-1 in their last 5 matches, including 3 straight wins, all by a score of 3-0. Pittsburgh holds the highest goal differential in the league (23) and their 25 points are second-most only to Tampa Bay Rowdies and San Antonio FC who each have 27. Riverhounds have been without star midfielder Kenardo Forbes since his injury early in the match against Hartford. Midfielder Robbie Mertz has stepped up in his absence being named to the Team of the Week for a goal and four key passes in two matches.
Can’t watch? Stay in touch with our live commentary @hfdathletic or by following #PITvHFD