If Miami FC wants to prove that they are the best in the Atlantic, they will have to beat the best. And right now, the first-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds are the best.
There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful about Miami FC (8-6-3, 27 pts) as enter the back half of the 2021 season. And yet, Miami has struggled to find that “big win” on the road this season.
A win on Wednesday night in the Steel City could change that and turn the race for the Atlantic Division’s top spot on its head. But what will it take for Miami FC to take down the red-hot Riverhounds? Let’s find out.
Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (10-4-3, 33 pts) surged past Tampa Bay and now sit atop the Atlantic Division.
Russell Cicerone and Hugh Alexander Dixon have been pivotal to the Riverhounds success this season. Cicerone leads the club with eight goals and four assists. Dixon, meanwhile, is right behind him with six goals and four assists.
In Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory over Charleston last Friday, Cicerone opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Dixon then added a pair of goals in the winning effort. Dixon, for his efforts, earned his third straight selection to the USL Championship Team of the Week.
The Riverhounds are one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. They’ve only allowed 18 goals so far this season (1.05 goals per game). And they have been formidable at home, compiling a 4-2-1 record at Highmark Stadium this season.
Miami and Pittsburgh will meet again two more times this season. Both will be late season matches at FIU Stadium in October. If both squads continue on their current trajectories, those two matches could determine playoff positioning for Miami FC and Pittsburgh.
Keys To A Miami Victory
In their only meeting this season, Miami FC and Pittsburgh fought to a 1-1 draw at Highmark Stadium on June 12. Cicerone gave Pittsburgh the early lead, but former Riverhound Cristiano François leveled the match for Miami just before the end of the first half to help Miami earn a point. Can François, who has three goals and three assists so far this season, help lift Miami to a huge victory against his former club?
Miami must find a way to shut down Cicerone and Dixon and keep them off the scoresheet. Miami’s backline, led by Paco Craig, will need to be at their best and goalkeeper Connor Sparrow may need to make a big stop or two to help the Orange and Blue steal three points on the road.
If Miami wants to compete for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, they will need to find a way to beat teams like Pittsburgh–especially away from the friendly confines of FIU Stadium. But they are running into Pittsburgh at the worst possible time.
The Riverhounds are making a case that they are the new team to beat in the division. Despite Miami FC’s impressive play lately, it’s hard to see them taking down the hottest team in the division on the road.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 3 – Miami FC 2
WHO: Miami FC (8-6-3, 27 pts) vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (10-4-3, 33 pts)
WHEN: Wednesday, August 11 // 6:00 pm EST
WHERE: Highmark Stadium (Pittsburgh, PA)
WATCH: ESPN+ in the US, YouTube internationally
- Miami FC – None
- Pittsburgh Riverhounds – None