It wasn’t quite a do-or-die match coming in, but New Mexico United was in dire need of a win in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds were always going to be a challenge for United, but the Black & Yellow didn’t do themselves any favors as they conceded twice in the first half on the way to a 2-1 defeat in Pittsburgh.
United looked like they might be up for the challenge early on, but the possession stat was misleading. Most of United’s possession came inside their own half. Of the handful of chances they did get to go forward, they only managed one shot on frame in the first half, and it was easily handled by Jahmali Waite.
The broken record that has been the performance of United continued to scratch. Set pieces were the issue again and United dug themselves a hole in the first half that they couldn’t get out of. In the 27th United had attempted to play the back to Andrew Thomas to reset the field, but in the messy conditions, a poor pass resulted in a corner kick for the Riverhounds. Kenardo Forbes targeted the near post and Joseph Farrell elevated, head and shoulders above everyone else, to hammer home a header, 1-0 to Pittsburgh.
Ten minutes later in the 37th, Forbes once again had a corner in front of him. Going near post once again, the ball fell to Arturo Ordonez who was able to head home a second goal for the hosts, 2-0.
Pittsburgh came close to adding a third in the 43rd minute, once again from a set piece. Forbes and Farrell connected on this one as well, but the attempt went off the crossbar keeping the deficit at two.
United would see some slightly better chances in the second half after Amando Moreno was introduced at halftime. In the 51st, Moreno was driving at the Riverhounds defenders with Sergio Rivas off to his right. Moreno smartly squared the ball to Rivas who shot from near the spot. Unfortunately for the New Mexico native, Rivas’ shot was saved and the threat was ended.
The Riverhounds appeared to have a third goal in the 60th minute, but without the assistance of VAR or goalline technology, the goal wasn’t awarded. Daniel Rovira saw an opportunity to shoot from outside the box and his attempt was cleared off the line. However, a review of the video showed that the ball may have gone over the line.
Saved by the call of the referee, United was still alive in the match and eventually won a penalty in the 82nd. As Moreno went to cross the ball from the left side of the area, Luke Biasi’s arm was extended and deflected the ball away from goal. The referee pointed to the spot for only the third time this year for United and up stepped Justin Portillo. Portillo opted to go to the top right corner of the net while the keeper went the opposite way, and converted to cut the lead to 2-1.
United would be unable to put anything threatening on goal after that as the Riverhounds continue their tear at Highmark Stadium.
Player of the Match
Justin Portillo – While the Ice Man hasn’t been great at his set pieces this season, for the second time in three matches, he was able to convert from the penalty spot.
After going coast-to-coast in three days, United returns home for a match against Lousiville City FC. That match will take place on Saturday, September 30 with kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m. United may not be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by then, but the hopes will be severely diminished and they could be facing a win or go home affair.