Hot Riverhounds emphasize defense
performance under him has reflected that. After posting its fifth consecutive clean sheet in a 1-0 victory Sunday against Ottawa, the Riverhounds have not allowed a goal in its past 487 minutes of game play.
But players such as Brett, forward Romeo Parkes, midfielder Christiano Francois and midfielder Kevin Kerr, who have combined to score 15 of the Riverhounds’ 20 goals this season, will be even more important as the team moves into the second half of its season.
As Lilley said at practice Thursday, the Riverhounds aren’t trying to win 1-0. They’re trying to win 4-0.
“We’ve got to get better at the offensive end as a group, not just the forwards, but service has gotta get better, our passing out of the midfield can be better,” Lilley said. “We have to improve in that area.”
Generating momentum in the final third will be a point of emphasis as the Riverhounds, a point behind first-place FC Cincinnati (10-3-5) in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand, plot a course to contention. And Lilley sees value in a player with Pittsburgh roots such as Brett leading that charge.
“His instincts are good,” Lilley said. “He’s got a good strike with both feet. His movement, he’ll work hard. He’ll drag center back to find those gaps. He’s a poacher. He sniffs out opportunities and he’s hungry every game. He’ll do the dirty work, he’ll follow in for rebounds. He’ll fight for the team to maybe pick up a loose ball.
“You do that all the time, you get rewarded. And that’s why Neko’s having a great season.”
Riverhounds goalkeeper Dan Lynd dives to make a save during practice Thursday at Highmark Stadium.