During the first half, it was hard to believe that the Rhinos were the home team. Orlando easily passed around and through the center of the field as if the Rochester midfielders never showed up to the game. Depending on how you count the Rhinos’ 4-4-1-1 formation, the team plays five midfielders; on Friday night it looked like they played two in the midfield.
Danny Earls was playing in center midfield alongside Tyler Rosenlund. Earls has been highly effective for the Rhinos this year, but only when he plays on the left wing. Head coach Jesse Myers plays Earls inside because the team lacks a playmaking midfielder. Myers thinks Earls can better help the team with his passing ability inside rather than providing a consistent threat down the outside.
Tyler Rosenlund’s only consistent characteristics this season have been to misplace simple passes and easy traps. Having the first touch of a rhinoceros doesn’t necessarily mean Rosenlund should start games for the Rochester Rhinos. Rosenlund can’t pass, trap, tackle or score. He offers nothing to the team except as a scapegoat for criticism. It boggles my mind that the coaching staff hasn’t been able to figure out a winning midfield combination. In the five months since the players first started playing together for the 2012 season, Jesse Myers hasn’t yet realized that he needs a player who can pass and a player who can tackle in his midfield.
Jack Traynor hasn’t impressed me in defense this year, but he didn’t have that poor of a game last night. On the night of his anniversary, Traynor still displayed poor positioning and poor timing in tackles. However, other players were at greater fault that the hapless left back. The team’s liability in the left side of defense is another black-eye for the coaching staff.
And then there’s J.C. Banks… Apparently Myers is content with giving Banks the task of winning games by himself. The team’s lineup provided very little support for the tenacious young winger. Chris Estridge is a talented and versatile player but he’s not the type of galloping wing player the team needs in their current formation. Isaac Kissi is a big forward with the foot skills to keep the play going, however the combination of Rosenlund and McManus constantly lets the team down.
In Tottenham supporters’ circles, there is a debate about a similar player: Rafael van der Vaart. Van der Vaart is a great player, but including him in the starting XI prevents the manager from playing the best formation for the rest of the players. There is no question van der Vaart’s skill adds something special to the team, but what is the opportunity cost to his inclusion; that is, what does the team give up by playing van der Vaart? If Tottenham didn’t play the Dutchman (and given they had another forward), they could play a dynamic 4-4-2 with two true targets up top. In the same respect, if Myers chose not to start Tam McManus then the Rhinos could play with Andrew Hoxie nodding long balls onto Kissi or Kendell McFayden. Two targets would make it harder for the opposition to mark the Rhinos out of the game, which is what Orlando was able to accomplish with aggravating ease.
In addition to poor play, the officiating didn’t help the Rhinos’ cause. J.C. Banks received a yellow card in the 56th minute for a possibly two footed, possibly studs up challenge in the center circle. Then in the 76th minute center referee Ron Dambrosia thought Banks run through Adama M’Bengue after the Orlando player cleared the ball down the left side. Interestingly, left side Assistant Referee Amanda Ross didn’t signal for a foul. Ross was standing a matter of inches away from the supposed incident and did not see any contact worthy of a foul, let alone a booking. Somehow Dambrosia noticed a foul from at least 40 yards away that his Assistant Referee could not. Because of M’Bengue’s theatrics (his scream was particularly noteworthy), Dambrosia decided to issue Banks his second yellow card of the evening. 4 minutes later, M’Bengue received his marching orders to a cacophony of cheers from Rhinos’ fans.
Against Charleston, the Rhinos will miss Banks because of his ejection but also Rosenlund and McManus due to yellow card accumulation. This temporarily solves the congestion problem caused by McManus and Rosenlund occupying the same space on the field, the team may be short on midfielders. J.C. Banks’ absence will mean that either Quavas Kirk or Danny Earls will have to play on the outside. If Earls shifts to the wing, Drew Cost can partner Michael Tanke in the center. A lack of central players may force Jesse Myers to play two strikers from the kickoff.