Rhinos Squeak by Dayton to Finish Their Road Trip A Perfect 3-0

The Rhinos took advantage of a defensive blunder by the Dayton Dutch Lions to steal three points in a drab and dreary USL-Pro match on Saturday night.  Neither team really deserved to win this match, but J.C. Banks was on hand to capitalize on a truly dreadful back pass debacle.

The Rhinos started Kristian Nicht in goal; Quavas Kirk, George Kyriazis, Troy Roberts, and Jack Traynor in the back; Danny Earls on the right, J.C. Banks out left, Drew Cost and Tyler Rosenlund in the middle; with Tam McManus playing behind Graciano Brito.

The Dayton Dutch Lions ran out the same lineup they used in their previous two league matches. Matthew Williams; Gregory Preciado, Nixon Dias, Mettin Copier, and Shane Smith; Joel DeLass, Mikael McNamara, and Kyle Knotek; Gibson Bardsley, Gerrit-Jan Bartels, and Akeem Priestley.

In the first half, the Rhinos seemed to struggle with the advanced wing-play from Dayton’s wide forwards Gibson Bardsley and Akeem Priestley.  Rochester seemed content to sit back, soak up pressure and exploit counter attacks.  However, no counter attacks were forthcoming and the Dutch Lions could not put together a final ball.  In fact, both teams were spraying sloppy passes and slicing shots well wide of the goal in the first 45 minutes.  The referee’s whistle came as a relief for the spectators much more so than for the players of either side.

Jesse Myers knew that the team had to come out harder, faster, stronger in the second half and whatever he told the players during halftime worked.  The team was taking more shots, spreading play out wide, and whipping in dangerous crosses.  It might be fair to say the Rhinos generated more offense in the first 15 minutes of the second half than in all of the first half.  After Gustavio Zamudio replaced Cost in midfield and Andrew Hoxie came in up top for Brito, the Rhinos took control of the game.  A period of prolonged pressure by the Rhinos, which included a number of corner kicks played in by Danny Earls, the Rhinos got their breakthrough.  After the goal, the Rhinos looked very dynamic in attack for about ten minutes before nearly completely capitulating possession to the Dutch Lions.  For the last fifteen minutes the Rhinos were content to sit back on their one goal lead, evidenced by the introduction of Kyle Manscuk for Tam McManus.  The defender made his outdoor professional debut and had a few critical clearances to help the team to their third shutout of the young 2012 USL-Pro season.

I watched the match and I’m still not sure quite what happened.  The Dayton Dutch Lions pride themselves on what they think is a possession based style of football.  So this naturally includes playing the ball into and out from the goalkeeper.  Unfortunately for the Dutch Lions, they are not that good at passing (or soccer in general), and with the keeper out of position the defense attempted to knock the ball around to maintain possession.  With Dayton’s goalkeeper Matt Williams stranded, J.C. Banks reacted quickly to intercept a horrible back pass and calmly slot the ball home past two sliding defenders.

The goal marks the Rhinos winger’s second goal in as many games and his fifth overall point this season.  We now have two statistics to throw around for J.C. Banks.  First is the fact that the team is now 9-0-0 across the last two seasons when Banks has a goal or an assist.  His goal against Dayton also means that Banks is on a 3 game point-streak.  If the league did not take notice of the tricky winger last season, they certainly will now.

Another player to take note of is Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht.  Apparently the veteran German did not need any time to settle in to the team or to life in North America as he notched his league leading third straight shutout of the season.  Nicht has yet to concede a goal in the league and can thank his imposing 6’5″ frame and his solid back-line for that.

This back-line may have taken a hit tonight as Quavas Kirk went down midway through the second half with what looked like a recurrence of the upper right leg injury he suffered during the first match in Los Angeles.  Lucas Fernández came in to finish out the game for the right back in both cases.  Hopefully Kirk can recover before next weekend’s home opener against the Charlotte Eagles.

In that home opener, in-form Banks will look to keep his streak alive by scoring or assisting a goal in front of the Rhinos’ faithful at Sahlen’s Stadium.  I can’t make it to the game, but I’m hoping that a bunch of you will show up and voice your support for Rochester’s 3-0 Rhinos.

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