The summer is great for soccer in the United States. Tonight the USMNT kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign against Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa. But I won’t be watching that match. Thanks to DVR, I’ll be standing and jumping and cheering at the Rochester Rhinos’ game against Wilmington. As I write this post I’m watching the Poland and Greece game recorded on my TV. This past week I’ve been struggling to get in shape and regain my touch on the ball ahead of the season opening tournament for my summer recreation league.
As odd as it seems, all the soccer excitement this past week has prevented me from finding time to write about soccer. Two weekends ago I attended my first FC Buffalo match with my girlfriend and was not disappointed. The team, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League, consists of local high school and college standouts and boasts a tight group of devoted supporters. Last weekend, I was one of the Rhinos’ faithful at Sahlen’s Stadium trying to urge the ball in the net against Richmond Kickers. The Rhinos could not find an equalizer to Richmond’s early goal, but Rochester spent most of the match pressing and probing their opposition’s defense. While many of the most vocal supporters were away in Toronto lending their voices to the national team against Canada, there were a few of us attempting to replicate the atmosphere we’re used to.
As much as we all wanted Poland to win in the opening game of the Euros as co-host of the tournament, I took a great deal of pleasure in seeing Szczesny’s facial expression as he got sent off. Group A is now a wide open race for second place after Russia dominated the first half of its match against the Czech Republic
In a few hours I’m going to be heading out to Rochester with a car full of friends. Hopefully we can do our work to create a welcoming atmosphere for the Rhinos despite the USMNT game starting at the same time. After starting the season 6-0-0, the team has gone 0-2-2 in the league and only managed to score 3 goals in that time. At this point, it seems as though the season might come down to Isaac Kissi’s return to fitness up top. He may provide the dynamism in the forward position that the Rhinos so desperately need. The team has gotten production from midfield and has looked solid in the back. Tam McManus has done everything he can to help the team, but Andrew Hoxie and Graciano Brito have failed to make a mark so far this year. Hopefully head coach Jesse Myers can figure something out quick before we see the Rhinos skid outside of the top three in the USL-Pro standings.
I’ll be there and hope to see some of you at Sahlen’s Stadium tonight too.
Join the Stampede.