Hartford couldn’t find its momentum on the road Saturday and took a heavy 5-0 defeat at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ Highmark Stadium. Head coach Rahdi Jaïdi went with another formation change, a 5-4-1 form, including the debut of recent New York City FC loanee Justin Haak.
The majority of Pittsburgh’s goals came in the first half: The first came in the 13th minute from defender Ryan James after a leveled first 10 minutes. Pittsburgh had a corner kick where Hartford tried to clear the ball out of the penalty box. With no success, the ball ended up with a wide-open James who chested the ball and shot into the bottom left corner of the net. Fourteen minutes later, Pittsburgh would strike again, this time by forward Ropapa Mensah. A lobbed ball from defender Ray Lee went toward Mensah, but Hartford had the advantage to take possession. However, miscommunication with keeper Parfait Mandanda and Kevin Politz saw the two collide and gave Mensah the perfect opportunity to increase the Hounds’ lead. The final goal of the first half came in the 42nd minute after a penalty taken by forward Anthony Velarde.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Pittsburgh scored for the fourth time. Some miscommunication from Hartford’s defenders led to the collision of Alex Lara with Mandanda. Matheus Silva tried to reclaim the ball, but James was faster and shot the ball into the bottom right corner, securing his brace. Pittsburgh’s final goal of the match didn’t come until the 61st minute. Midfielder Robbie Mertz received the ball by one of his teammates and was quick on his feet, passing the ball through two Hartford defenders to Mensah. Mensah chipped the ball over Mandanda who came off of his line.
It was another disappointing performance from Hartford against Pittsburgh, who only saw one shot in the full 90 minutes and it wasn’t even on target; and not even a five-player defense could stop Pittsburgh’s form. One of the only few things that Hartford could’ve taken out of this match was to communicate, because they were seriously lacking in communication (if any, for that matter). This was Hartford’s second defeat on the road as well as their most conceded match this season.
Hartford moves on to their next game at Dillon Stadium against the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday where a win is extremely important as the season’s end is on the horizon.