Hounds topple reigning champions in Phoenix

Teammates surround Edward Kizza after his goal in the Hounds' 3-1 win over Phoenix Rising FC in Phoenix on April 20, 2024.
Teammates surround Edward Kizza after his goal in the Hounds’ 3-1 win over Phoenix Rising FC.

(April 21, 2024) — Goals through Kazaya Sterling, Edward Kizza And Babacar Diene powered the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to their first win of the season, 3-1, over reigning USL Championship champions Phoenix Rising FC late Saturday night at Phoenix Rising Soccer Stadium in Arizona.

Remi Cabral scored for Phoenix (2-4-1), which tied the game at 1-1 before halftime. The Hounds (1-3-2) pulled away to win by becoming only the second team in seven games to score multiple goals against Phoenix.

It was the Hounds’ first road victory against a Western Conference team since interconference play resumed in 2021, after going 0-5-6 in their past eleven games when traveling to a Western opponent.

First half

The match had plenty of chances both ways – Phoenix defeated the Hounds 19-10 overall – and in the 20th minute Hounds goalkeeper Erik Dick was forced into the first of three saves, a dive to the right to deny Cabral.

The scoring opened in the 26th minute Robbie Mertz delivered a pass into the penalty area to Kizza, who cleverly pushed a pass into Sterling’s path with his back heel. The England striker made no mistake with his driven shot and scored his first goal as a member of the Hounds.

Two minutes later Cabral leveled the score with a good individual run across the top of the penalty area, moving to the left and finishing with a shot from 15 yards out.

Second half

The second half started with a moment of controversy in the opening minute, as Sterling then fired the ball into the net Junior EtouPhoenix’s shot bounced off the Phoenix defender’s arm Dad Boye. Referee Brad Jensen However, the whistle blew too quickly, awarded a penalty, disallowed the goal and carded Boye. Sterling stepped up to take the penalty, but his effort missed high into the right corner of the net, leaving the match level.

Phoenix then had its own chance to take the lead in the 54th minute, but Dick had enough of a gauntlet on José Hernández‘s shot from the center of the penalty area to push it off the right post and away from the goal.

Kizza gave the Hounds the lead for good at the end of a good connection in the 62nd minute. The game ended when Etou received the ball in the penalty area and played a pass straight across the goal for Kizza, who scored his second goal of the season.

The Hounds defended to maintain their lead, and in the 90th minute Etou again wreaked havoc on the left side. His pass direction Danny Griffioen was met by two Phoenix defenders in the penalty area, but the ball ended up in the path of Diene, who scored his first professional goal and sealed the three points.

Modelo Man of the Match

Edward Kizza takes the honors for the second straight game after scoring the winning goal and making a creative assist on Sterling’s opening shot. Kizza also connected on 84 percent of his passes and won possession a match-high seven times.

What’s next?

After taking four of six points on the road, the Hounds return home to take on Detroit City FC (5-0-0), the only team left with a perfect record in the USL Championship . The rematch of last year’s playoffs will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Riverhounds SC Lineup (5-3-2) — Erik Dick; Junior Etou, Luke Biasi, Pat Hogan, Illal Osumanu, Sean Suber (Langston Blackstock 74′); Bradley Sample (Aidan O’Toole 89′), Danny Griffin, Robbie Mertz (Kenardo Forbes 74′); Edward Kizza (Dani Rovira 89′), Kazaiah Sterling (Babacar Diene 74′)

Phoenix Rising FC Lineup (4-2-3-1) — Rocco Rios Novo; Gabi Torres (Edgardo Rito 67′), John Stenberg, Pape Boye, Laurence Wyke; Renzo Zambrano (Giulio Doratiotto 85′), José Hernandez; Federico Varela (Panos Armenakas 67′), Dariusz Formella (Emil Cuello 76′), Erickson Gallardo (Juan Azócar 67′); Remi Cabral

Score overview

PIT — Kazaiah Sterling 26′ (Edward Kizza)
PHX — Rémi Cabral 28′ (Pape Boye)
PIT — Edward Kizza 62′ (Junior Etou)
PIT — Babacar Diene 90′

Discipline summary

PIT — Illal Osumanu 15′ (note – tactical error)
PHX — John Stenberg 24′ (note – reckless foul)
PHX — Erickson Gallardo 42′ (note – tactical error)
PHX – Pape Boye 47′ (note – deliberate treatment)