Most USL teams that visit the Lowcountry in late spring or early summer tend to sit back and wait for attacking opportunities, content to escape Blackbaud Stadium with a draw.
The heat and humidity can takes the legs away from even the fittest team.
Sitting back and playing in a defensive shell just isn’t in the DNA of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
The Charleston Battery will take on the Riverhounds on Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Riverhounds have scored 15 goals this season, the most in the USL’s Eastern Conference. Only the Seattle Sounders FC 2 have scored more goals (17) than the Riverhounds to this point in the season, and they’ve played one more game.
“I don’t see Pittsburgh coming down here and sitting back hoping to get a point,” said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “They are an attacking team, they like to put pressure on you and push forward, and I don’t see that changing just because they are coming down to play us. That’s their style, it’s very fast, and we’ve got to be ready for it. I think it’s going to be a very entertaining game for the fans.”
The Riverhounds feature two of the top scorers in the USL in midfielders Rob Vincent and Kevin Kerr. Vincent and Kerr are first and second in the USL in scoring this season with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Vincent leads the league in goals (six) and points (15), while Kerr has four goals and three assists. Both are having breakout seasons for the Riverhounds. Vincent has already doubled the points he recorded in 28 appearances last year, while Kerr has needed just six appearances to equal the four goals he recorded in 26 matches.
“You’ve got to be aware of where those guys are on the field at all times,” said Charleston Battery captain Jarad van Schaik. “That’s why communication is going to be so important for us (Saturday). Our back four are going to have to be constantly talking and communicating with each other. Those guys are very dangerous and they’re capable of scoring very quickly.”
The Riverhounds roster is stocked full of international players. Goalkeeper Ryan Thompson played last season at Tampa Bay and has made three appearances with the Jamaican National Team. Ghanian Stephen Okai is a quality USL midfielder, with stops at Charlotte and Orange County. Winger Tyler Pasher is an energetic Canadian international who spent the past two years in Norway and Finland. Brazilian veteran Vini Dantas is a 6-1 target forward who distributes well. He spent last season in Ottawa. Lebo Moloto is a 22-year-old South African midfielder who returned to play in his home country after failing to stick with Seattle in 2013.
Add USL Hall of Fame coach Mark Steffens, who spent 18 seasons with the Charlotte Eagles, and the Riverhounds should challenge for a postseason spot throughout the regular season.
“You know he’s going to have them organized, and they’re always going to play at a high level,” Anhaeuser said. “In Charlotte, every time you played them, and just watching Pittsburgh already, he always has them playing for 90 minutes. In this league, that’s big.”
The Battery will be without defender Quinton Griffith, who is out after having knee surgery. Emmanuel Adjetey will most likely take Griffith’s spot in the lineup.
“Quinton should be back three or four weeks,” Anhaeuser said.