As of Sunday night the team has 2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 5 forwards signed which adds up to 16 players under contract. Last season the Rhinos finished the season with 26 players under contract [3 GK, 7 DF, 11 MF, and 5 FW] and the team had 24 players during the 2010 season [2 GK, 6 DF, 11 MF, and 5 FW]. We can expect between 7 and 10 more signings between now and the USL Pro roster freeze date (which has previously been the middle to the end of July), and based on past years, a majority of these signings should be midfielders.The starting line-up in a 4-5-1 formation for the Rhinos in their preseason friendly was: Joe Marino; Jack Traynor, George Kyliazis, Tyler Bellamy, Michael Tanke; Drew Cost, Gustavo Zamudio, Danny Earls, Pedro Rivas, Conor Chinn; Graciano Brito.
Of this squad, only goalkeeper Joe Marino, midfielder Drew Cost, defender Tyler Bellamy, and Michael Tanke featured for the club last season. Also in the starting XI were newcomers Jack Traynor, Conor Chinn and Graciano Brito who have already been signed to the team. Tanke has played as a central midfielder but saw minutes Sunday as a right back.
McQuaid High School and SUNY Brockport graduate Joe Marino shared backup duties with Ryan Kenny last season behind starter Neal Kitson, but has not been signed for the 2012 season. If he does sign a contract, Marino will join Brandon Miller (who played the second half of the match on Sunday) in the goalkeeping pecking order behind projected starter Kristian Nicht.
Former Rhino Danny Earls played as a left winger in the match. Earls played as a left back for the Rhinos and subsequently played there for the majority of his appearances with the Colorado Rapids of MLS. A nasty quadriceps injury and competition for his position limited Earls to only 7 appearances split between MLS and the Concacaf Champions League in 2011. On January 17, the Colorado Rapids announced that they were not going to return Earls for 2012 which makes him free to sign for another team. In two years with the Rapids, Earls only played left midfield once in a competitive match and the Rhinos just signed two left sided full backs (Traynor and Zaher) while J.C. Banks excelled last year playing on the left flank. I’m not sure where the Irishman would fit into the squad but he is familiar with Rochester, having previously played with the Rhinos for two seasons, and clearly his 64 professional league matches in four seasons are a testament to his ability to perform at a high level.
Kendell McFayden came on for striker Graciano Brito and played the final 30 minutes of the match. McFayden is a graduate of Williamsville North High School and Medaille College. The six foot tall, 23 year old striker has previously played in the PDL with Austin Aztex u23s before signing a professional contract with the Ausin Aztex of the then USSF Division 2 Pro League. The Western New York native spent 2011 playing with the Kitsap Pumas of PDL up in Washington State. McFayden could be an important reserve player during a congested 2012 USL Pro schedule or during the opening rounds of the 2012 U.S. Open Cup.
Midfielder Gary Boughton played in the PDL for four seasons before signing with F.C. New York in 2011. The 23 year old Buffalo native was a stand-out player during his four years at Medaille College. Boughton made 21 league appearances for F.C. New York last year and after the season spent an extensive period training with Sporting Kansas City of MLS. He entered the game in the 60th minute and played well as the Rhinos controlled possession at the end of the match.
Jesse Myers also introduced trialist Mac Hemie (Mac Hemmi) into the game with a half hour left in the match. Hemie entered to replace Michael Tanke who was getting a look at right back to provide cover for projected starter Quavas Kirk. I have been unable to find any further information on Hemie. The same goes for left/central defender George Kyliazis, right winger Pedro Rivas, and a center midfielder who was identified by two different names in the club’s press release; either Gustavo Zamudio or Carlos Zemudeo.
“Today I really wanted to see some guys get a chance to play specific positions to see how they are going to fit into the team, said Rhinos head coach Jesse Myers after the game. “I also wanted to get a chance to evaluate some of the players that we have in camp against a quality USL PRO opponent like Pittsburgh. I think we received a good test today from the ‘Hounds and got a lot of information that we can take back to training with us.”
Myers continued, “We’re four days into our season right now. We learned some lessons about our players and our team today. We also got the chance for our foreign guys to see what the style of play is going to be like in the USL PRO. Now we’re going to go back to work and try to get better individually and as a team.”
The Rhinos are looking for a few missing pieces from their midfield and one or two extra bodies to fill out the back line. While the 2012 USL Pro season is almost upon us, Jesse Myers’s approach in the first preseason game shows that the coaching staff is working hard to build a successful squad. Less than four weeks until the season opener in Fullerton, CA against the Los Angeles Blues and the start of a championship run for the Rochester Rhinos.