The Hounds Notebook: What ‘Other Solutions’ Are Coming to RGV, as well as a look back at short-lived Houston Dynamo membership

Photo courtesy of Mark Goodman

The last time Riverhounds SC won a football game, they beat a team from Texas back on May 14 when they defeated El Paso Locomotive 1-0 at Highmark Stadium.

On Saturday night, in the heart of the Lone Star State, they will face another new rival, Rio Grande Valley Toros FC, in the first ever meeting between the two clubs (20:30).

The Hounds (7-4-3, 24 points) ended practice in Pittsburgh on Thursday as Friday is travel day as they head west looking to break a four-game losing streak that includes two losses (in Tampa Bay and Charleston). ) and two draws (in Miami and against Detroit City in the only home game in that stretch).

It will also be a battle between two teams that were once affiliates of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. Find out more about this very interesting nugget below.

The Hounds are looking to turn the page after an embarrassing 3-0 loss to USL rivals Old Guard Charleston last Saturday in South Carolina.

Lilly is determined to “carry on” despite the Riverhounds’ current plight

“It was tough,” said Riverhounds SC head coach Bob Lilly in an interview with PSN this week.

“We have to think about other solutions. Because our performance in Charleston was insipid. We were pretty predictable. Didn’t cause a lot of problems.”

Other solutions may be in the cards

The Hounds should use the services of both Mekail Williams and Alex Dixon, who missed last week’s game for various reasons.

In addition, goalkeeper Jahmali Waite, who started at Charleston, was called up to the Jamaica national team for the CONCACAF Nations League match against Mexico, where he served as a substitute goalkeeper. (Waite was not used in the 1-1 draw).

The Hounds reported midweek that the draft would not affect Waite’s availability at the Hounds. Of course, he joined the team for practice on Thursday, providing Lilly and his coaching staff with a full complement of players for the trip to Texas.

So what changes are expected this week?

Under Lilly’s guidance, the Harriers constantly adapt to their opponents from game to game and even in every match. Against the Charleston, after falling behind early in the game, the Hounds did not adjust to the Charleston’s back four playing deep and made several costly defensive mistakes late in the first half.

They lacked the opportunity to make it to the finish line, to stretch the Charleston’s defensemen once they got into the final third, and to have more opportunities and runners coming out into the open spaces.

Lilly used five subs in the second half at Charleston. He brought in Albert Dikva and William Eyang as forwards (replacing Dane Kelly and Luis Argudo) and Angelo Kelly-Rosales (replacing Dani Rovira). Mark Ibarra and Toby Sims also came out in the 74th minute.

Based on his feedback in this week’s interview, Lilly liked what he saw in each of his secondary subwoofers, noting that some of those changes “shook the band in a positive direction.”

One of PSN member Mark Goodman’s assessments the last time he was on Sounding Off on Soccer was that the Hounds weren’t tough enough in the grip, especially in the middle of the park, this season.

Lilly himself, after a disappointing result against Detroit City, even said that his team did not persevere and did not do enough to regain the lead after conceding the equalizing goal in the 70th minute.

And Angelo Kelly-Rosales?

The Hounds have a deep center midfield, but he is one of the players who has so far been underused this season.

After some extended second half time showing some positives, maybe the veteran midfielder will get his first league start with the Hounds soon?

With Kenardo Forbes and Danny Griffin in central midfield, Lilly mixed Luis Argudo, Marc Ibarra and Dani Rovira with outs in the middle, but Kelly-Rosales was used intermittently, with eight games, no starts in league games and a total of 150 minutes of action.

With the Battery, Kelly-Rosales made 90 appearances and nine assists in four seasons, including 29 starts, the same as the previous season. While Danny Griffin has been solid in the number six role, it’s possible that if he wants to “consider other options” Lilly could mix the Kelly-Rosales higher in formation, especially against teams they want to pressure, as he did. with Mohammad Dabo in 2018 and 2019 who was the same type of defensive midfielder.

Or Kelly-Rosales could sit deeper and give Griffin a little more freedom to play higher with Forbes or go deeper with Kelly-Rosales if they want to move to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

This is one possible change that could make sense in this upcoming game, or in upcoming matches where the Hounds might need some extra mid-range durability.

Thoros-Hounds connection

The Toros have been a Western Conference staple of the USL Championship since 2016, when they were founded in part to serve as a hybrid affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.

It can be said that on some level, Riverhounds helped create a preliminary blueprint or temporary replacement prior to the development of the Rio Grande Valley Toros FC franchise.

Just a few years prior, the Dynamo organization had partnered with the Riverhounds to form a one-year membership.

In 2014 Riverhounds as part of the USL Pro ,entered into an agreement to join the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.


** (USL Pro did not become a USL Championship or promoted to Division Two until 2018)

The Dynamo-Hounds affiliation originated in the early stages of the MLS-USL partnership, in which each MLS franchise had to either launch its own USL franchise or find an affiliate partner in USL by 2016. The fast-growing USL doubled during this time. time, growing from 14 teams in 2015 to 29 in 2016.

It was very exciting at the time that this newfound partnership between Hounds and Dynamo would provide more legitimacy and spur the Riverhounds franchise, which had just completed its first season at Highmark Stadium.

At the time, in the mid-2010s, Dynamo was a successful MLS franchise – with a three-year run that included two consecutive MLS Cup second-place finishes and then a conference finalist.

This partnership proved far from ideal for both parties.

For most of 2014, the Hounds were mired in bankruptcy proceedings, getting off to a bad start, and then firing their coach. Given the attractive prospects for using the Houston players, especially in light of their financial situation, the Hounds never seemed to agree with their partner. Dynamo also endured a tough season that saw many injuries and for the second time in franchise history did not qualify for the playoffs.

During the 2014 season, the Hounds regularly used only two key players from Houston: defenseman Anthony Arena and goaltender Mike Lish. Other players, including Dynamo’s former 2013 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick Jason Johnson and Brian Ownby, have played in Pittsburgh on occasion.

Anthony Arena played for the Riverhounds in 2014 on loan from the Houston Dynamo. (photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Football Club)

The prospect of a continued partnership with Houston or another MLS membership alienated Riverhounds’ new management as they sought to help the franchise form a new identity ahead of the start of the 2015 season.
Then Riverhounds president Richard Nightingale and new head coach Mark Steffens were keen to start at that time without a partner.

Dynamo found another ready partner in the Charleston Battery for the 2015 season.

A year later, Rio Grande Valley Toros FC took over the mantle, becoming a hybrid affiliate of Dynamo.

This partnership lasted until the 2020 season.

Both clubs are now independent franchises not affiliated with Major League Soccer.

Look out for coverage of the Hounds-RVGFC match, the new episode of Sounding Off on Soccer and more coming this weekend on Pittsburgh Soccer Now.

John Krysinski has covered football and other sports for many years for various publications and media. He is also the author of Monday’s Miracle, a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC that explores the club, especially the early years of Highmark Stadium, with a story leading up to a great match that helped ignite the spark. for a franchise. John has covered sports for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, worked as a color commentator for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and has worked with OPTA Stats and US Open Cup and International Champions Cup broadcast teams in the United States. . Krysinsky also served as head men’s soccer coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to their first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); Northern Catholic School Boys Head Coach (2007-08), Shady Side Academy Boys Assistant Head Coach (2009-2014).

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