Hartford Athletic went on the road for a final clash against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday where they pulled a 1-0 upset at Highmark Stadium.
Pittsburgh would be the first to take a chance for an early lead in the 8th minute. Robbie Mertz brought the ball all the way to the penalty box but couldn’t find any other teammates. Doing a bit of footwork in the process, Mertz put the ball on his left side and went for the shot. A good chance, but the ball went wide. The game went a bit quiet afterwards until the ‘Hounds found their chance at a goal again in the 24th minute, this time by defender Jordan Dover. After some passes up the right side of the field, Dover snagged the ball off Daniel Griffin and took a light touch before taking his shot. Almost, but Pittsburgh still couldn’t find the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Hartford were awarded a penalty after Tyreke Johnson dribbled the ball into the penalty area and was fouled. Ever Guzmán took the penalty and tried to put it down the middle, but goalkeeper Daniel Vitiello saved it with his feet. The ball would go out for a corner kick, but Alex Dixon’s shot ended up hitting the Pittsburgh keeper and converted to another corner kick.
Hartford would get its revenge, however, shortly after the hydration break. In the 35th minute, Dixon crossed the ball up the field which nearly wasted possession after a Pittsburgh defender got a touch on the ball. However, they were not able to control it, and the ball went right in front of a sprinting Guzmán. With the keeper off his line, Guzmán chipped the ball over and scored the lone goal.
In the second half, the game was rather quiet until the 70th minute, when Hartford keeper Parfait Mandanda was given a red card. Mandanda went for the ball but ended up colliding with Pittsburgh’s Steevan Dos Santos who apparently cleated the goalkeeper. After a quick altercation with the forward, Mandanda threw the ball at Dos Santos and shoved him back to the ground; and the referee drew a straight red card. Afterwards, reserve keeper Michael Novotny came on with Dixon coming off for a 10-man Hartford squad.
In the 81st minute, Pittsburgh were awarded a free kick right outside the penalty box. Anthony Velarde took the free kick, but instead of going for an on-target shot, he passed to Albert Dikwa by the far post and went for a header that resulted in a goal kick. The ‘Hounds nearly equalized in the opening minutes of extra time after a header that was caught by Vitiello slipped out of his hands when colliding with Mark Forrest, but the referee ruled Forrest being offside. Pittsburgh continued to pressure Hartford and took multiple chances but to no avail, and the match finished with sweet revenge from the visitors.
Hartford’s next match will also be on the road Wednesday against Philadelphia Union II for the final time this season.