PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC had its unbeaten run ended at six games by the Charlotte Independence, who got an 81st-minute goal by Irvin Parra to grab a 1-0 win Saturday night at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Parra, the leading scorer for the Independence (11-8-4) with 10 on the season, finished after being played behind the defense on a pass from Valentin Sabella. The Independence ended up outshooting the Hounds (14-7-5) in the game, 11-9.
Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello finished with a season-high six saves in the loss, which included three in the opening 20 minutes to keep the Independence at bay.
The start of the match was all Charlotte, as the Independence had two great chances in the first 10 minutes but missed wide on each.
Vitiello’s busy night began with a point-blank stop of in-form Charlotte forward Sylvain Marveaux in the 17th minute, and three minutes later, he stopped Enzo Martinez and Joel Johnson on one-on-one chances less than 45 seconds apart.
The Hounds produced almost no offense in the first 45 minutes, but from a late corner kick, the ball fell to Alex Dixon, who hammered a shot on goal through traffic, but right into the hands of Charlotte goalie Austin Pack.
The Hounds looked like a different team after the break, and they nearly opened the scoring in the 50th minute.
Good ball movement led to Todd Wharton receiving a pass behind the defense on the right side, which drew both defenders and Pack away from the front of goal. Wharton slipped a pass across to Hounds leading scorer Russell Cicerone, who had a mostly open net, but his shot was cleared away from the line by Johnson, the only Charlotte defender back.
Ezra Armstrong, making his third start of the season, had an open header at the back post on a corner kick five minutes later, but his effort went over the bar, leaving the game scoreless.
The game grew more open as time progressed, but finally Charlotte got the goal by creating a turnover near midfield and moving into transition for Sabella to push a pass for Parra into space behind the Hounds defense.
The Hounds had one late chance in stoppage time. Danny Griffin clipped a dangerous diagonal ball to the back post from the left side, setting up a scramble in front involving Cicerone and multiple defenders. Anthony Velarde got the last touch on the ball for the Hounds, but he couldn’t turn the half-chance toward goal, ending the threat.
Hounds Man of the Match
The Hounds, in a lackluster first half, easily could have trailed by multiple goals if not for the play of Danny Vitiello. His six saves are a season high, and even with one goal conceded, Vitiello’s goals-against average remains under 1.00 for the season.
The Charleston Battery make their first of two trips this season to Highmark Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Sept. 25. The Battery (8-8-5) fell to eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division because of Charlotte’s win, while their Saturday match against Miami was in a lengthy weather delay.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC lineup (4-1-4-1) — Danny Vitiello; Preston Kilwien (Louis Pérez 76’), Shane Wiedt (Anthony Velarde 88’), Mekeil Williams (Tommy Williamson 88’), Jordan Dover (Jelani Peters 65’); Danny Griffin; Ezra Armstrong (Dani Rovira 65’), Kenardo Forbes, Todd Wharton, Alex Dixon; Russell Cicerone
Charlotte Independence lineup (4-4-2) — Austin Pack; Adam Armour, Christian Fuchs, Hugh Roberts, Joel Johnson; Gabriel Obertan, Marcelo Palomino (Valentin Sabella 79’), Brandt Bronico, Sylvain Marveaux (Christian Dean 87’); Enzo Martinez, Irvin Parra (Distel Zola 87’)
CLT - Irvin Parra 81’ (Valentin Sabella)
CLT - Adam Armour 71’ (caution - unsporting behavior)
PIT - Shane Wiedt 83’ (caution - unsporting behavior)