I’ll post a more in-depth analysis of the game tomorrow, but right now I want to let out my initial frustrations with the team.
Going into tonight’s set of Third Round U.S. Open Cup matches, almost everyone had Rhinos-Union circled as a potential upset. The Rhinos were a defensively solid team in second place in the USL-Pro and the Union were winless in their last five games and had recently solidified themselves as the second worst team in MLS after losing to the worst team. Unfortunately most of the bookmakers (including myself) were wrong about the game in PPL Park.
The Rhinos were undone by a corner kick in the 5th minute. A team that had an American soccer record 6 shutout wins to start the 2012 season looked more like a Sunday recreation team than a professional outfit. Freddy Adu sent the ball in near the penalty spot and two Rhinos defenders perked up and started moving. George Kyriazis was backing up preparing to make contact on the ball and Jack Traynor was stepping forward to do the same. However both players stopped and let the ball hit the ground inside the area. The ball bounced past a floundering Traynor and fell to Josue Martinez who made no mistake from close range. Kristian Nicht had no chance on the shot to his right side and the Philadelphia Union took the lead early.
After the rain delay, the game was more of the same with the Union pressing hard and exploiting Jack Traynor down the right side. In the 29th minute Josue Martinez beat Tyler Rosenlund to the goal line to chip a cross back to the penalty spot. His ball in found Freddy Adu who had ghosted into the area undetected by a jumbled Rochester defense. The 5’8″ attacker jumped to head down past Kristian Nicht.
Towards the end of the first half the Rhinos were stringing some positive passes together and generating a few chances of their own. They couldn’t finish any of their rushes and Graciano Brito exited the few without contributing anything to the game. Tyler Rosenlund didn’t make an impact either, well, not a positive one. The Canadian routinely snuffed out Rhinos’ attacks by taking too many touches or waiting too long to pull the trigger on a pass or shot.
In addition to Traynor’s troubles all game, Quavas Kirk started to tire halfway through the second half. This fatigue caused Kirk to get caught a step behind the Philadelphia players running at him. In the 73rd minute Kirk got turned by Michael Farfan outside the box and while tracking the Union attacker into the box fouled him from behind. Freddy Adu stepped up to take the penalty and converted from the spot. Kristian Nicht dove the right way, but the shot was too high for the 6’4″ German to reach.
The positives for the Rhinos were few and far between but J.C. Banks, Danny Earls, and Tam McManus showed flashes of their skill that has led the team in the league this season. However, a weakness in the middle of the field between Drew Cost and Tyler Rosenlund caused Earls to drop in centrally to receive the ball from Roberts and Kyriazis. This led to a lop sided and predictable attack going forward, as Earls consistently sought Banks on the opposite side.
Rochester Rhinos will look to put this poor performance behind them when they host the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, June 2. Richmond pushed D.C. United of MLS to extra time before falling 3-2 at home tonight.