Rochester 1-1 Louisville City FC: Rhinos Concede Late, Settle for a Draw on the Road

Earlier this season, Louisville City FC traveled to Rochester and beat the Rhinos for the first time. After that match on June 18, Rochester head coach Bob Lilley told me that he saw a lot of the grit, determination, and luck that drove his team to the USL Championship at the end of a one-loss campaign. Lilley credited his opponents after that match for getting ahead early and holding on to their lead on the road, a game-plan that worked wonders for Rochester in 2015.

With a 2015 playoff match and that June game in Rochester as context, the two teams faced off in Louisville on Saturday.

In the 13th minute, Steevan dos Santos picked up an errant pass from Kadeem Dacres in the center circle intended for Aodhan Quinn and immediately looked ahead. Dos Santos hit a well-timed pass with the outside of his right foot into the path of strike partner Christian Volesky. The pass split Louisville’s two central defenders, Sean Reynolds and Paco Craig, and Volesky ghosted in between them. One step inside the penalty area, with goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh rushing off his line, Volesky coolly finished with the right instep.

Aside from the goal, the biggest moment of the first half occurred in the 38th minute. Louisville’s Andrew Lubahn, who scored the only goal of the match in Rochester earlier in the season, went down in Rochester’s 18-yard box under a challenge from Mike Garzi. Lubahn and his team’s fans adamantly believed the play deserved a penalty.

Louisville City FC fans have often reverted to bashing the performances of match officials this season despite sitting high in the USL Eastern Conference. The Lubahn-incident late in the first half on Saturday night will no doubt be seen as yet another log in the fire for Louisville but referee was thoroughly, but rather evenly, poor on the night.

While there may have been a strong shout for Lubahn’s penalty, the officiating crew missed three possible bookings in the final five minute of the match. In the 88th minute Ben Newnam fouled dos Santos from behind close to midfield on the near side of the field to prevent a Rochester counter. In the 90th minute Dominic Samuel beat Dacres on the far side of the field and the Louisville winger chased Samuel down and dragged him to the ground him from behind. In the first minute of stoppage time, dos Santos was fouled hard and late by Craig in the attacking third.

Louisville may feel aggrieved by the non-call in the first half, but the entire league suffers from the lack of quality officiating.

In the 85th minute, central defender Joe Farrell did see a booking for a foul about 22 yards from goal. Ben Newnam took the free kick that caromed off Tomas Gomez’s near post. Louisville central midfielder Guy Abend got his head to the rebound and directed his the ball into the ground, which may have deflected off Vasili Apostolopoulos. The ball bounced up at the top of the six-yard box and Paco Craig was on hand to crash the net and finish the equalizer late in the game.

In the 67th minute, Louisville forward and former Tottenham academy player Cameron Lancaster caught Rochester’s Sofiane Tergou with a clear elbow to the face. There was a long stop in play as Tergou received treatment on the field. Both trainer Doug Graham and assistant coach Gavin McInerney showed the extent of the injury on Tergou’s face to the fourth official but there no was booking on the play.

In a bit of childish retribution, Apostolopoulos caught Lancaster with an elbow on the next available play and was duly shown a yellow card.

 

Chandler Hoffman has been the go-to striker for Louisville to cope with the loss of 2015 USL MVP and Golden Boot Winner Matt Fondy. Against Rochester, Hoffman had a number of chances but either rushed his shot or stumbled over the ball. In the 65th minute right back Ben Newnam dribbled into space in the channel and sent a good, low cross into the center. Hoffman made a run to meet the ball at the near post but somehow rifled his shot well wide of the frame from close range.

In the final minute of the game, the third minute of stoppage time, Louisville wasted a three on one break. A Louisville player drove up the middle of the field before dishing the ball to Hoffman on the left. Hoffman appeared to almost overrun the ball before taking a left-footed shot from 19 yards out that dribbled wide of the goal.

In a positive sign for Rochester, dos Santos and Volesky continued their on-field chemistry. During the recent loss at home to Richmond, dos Santos attempted to pull rank and take the penalty instead of Volesky. Volesky’s poorly-struck penalty was easily saved by Richmond’s Matt Turner and dos Santos can be seen on the replay reacting very poorly to Volesky’s decision.

Against Wilmington at home last Saturday, the pair exchanged assists for each other as the Rhinos downed the Hammerheads 2-0. That connection produced Rochester’s early goal in Louisville and will be key to the Rhinos looking towards the postseason.

The 1-1 draw is not a poor result for Rochester but the fans are right to be upset the team could not hold out for all three points. With difficult trips to Cincinnati, Charleston, and Charlotte on the horizon, the Rhinos need to take momentum from the good showing in Louisville into the next home match. A decisive victory over an inconsistent Pittsburgh Riverhounds team on Saturday will put Rochester in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.

Sober Reactions to the Historic U.S. Mexico Match

My initial reaction Wednesday night and most of Thursday was jumping up and down yelling USA! USA!  Now that it’s Friday I feel as though I should post my thoughts about the game from the American perspective.

First and foremost: Geoff Cameron, where have you been all my life?  The recent Stoke City signing was a star of the game for the U.S. along with goalkeeper Tim Howard.  Cameron was dominant in the air and made a point to put a body on Chicharito early and often.  Cameron’s constant reminders to the forward were one of the reasons why Chicharito was unable to put his mark on the contest.  

Tim Howard had his best game for the national team in a calendar year, perhaps with the exception of the match against Italy in Genoa.  Howard was absolutely fantastic in goal on Wednesday night and made two of the biggest saves of recent memory late in the game to preserve the U.S. lead.

Maurice Edu did not earn similar plaudits.  He sometimes looked lost playing in defense instead of his normal midfield role but was physically strong enough to adapt quickly.

Fabian Johnson has proved in the past that he is Klinsmann’s first choice left back.  Klinsmann trusted him so much that he played Johnson on the right side and employed Castillo on the left side.  Edgar Castillo played well in the first half but once Mexico opened the game up in the second period, the Tijuana left back appeared to struggle with the pace and intensity of the match.

Jermaine Jones was solid defensively but lacked quality going forward.  Kyle Beckerman played a strong game and wasn’t intimidated by the atmosphere in the Azteca.  Danny Williams made a couple of quality runs in the first half but didn’t do much else to impress while playing in an unusual formation.  The 4-3-1-2 also failed to get the best out of Jose Francisco Torres.  Pachuca’s talismanic attacking midfielder was largely absent from the game and he was subbed out at halftime. Continue reading

Belated Review of the USMNT Destruction of Scotland

Scotland’s lineup (4-5-1): Allan McGregor; Andy Webster, Gary Caldwell, Charlie Mulgrew, Phillip Bardsley; James McArthur, Scott Brown, Shaun Maloney, Matthew Phillips, Barry Bannan; Kenny Miller

United States lineup (4-3-3): Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson; Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley; Jose Francisco Torres, Landon Donovan, Terrence Boyd

Oguchi Onyewu for Bocanegra, 63
Kyler Beckerman for Edu, 64
Herculez Gomez for Boyd, 64
Joe Corona for José Torres, 68
Brad Guzan for Tim Howard, 71
Edgar Castillo for Fabian Johnson, 73
Bradley drove forward and laid the ball off to Jones who poked the play forward before falling to the ground. The ball rolled to Donovan near the PK spot who turned on his right foot to take a quick shot on his left foot. His first effort was blocked but he was the first to the rebound and roofed his second shot past 3 scottish defenders on the goalline.  1-0 to the U.S.A. in the third minute.

In just the eleventh minute, the U.S. doubled their advantage.  Donovan played a ball centrally to Jermaine Jones, who laid off a pass to Michael Bradley from over 25 yards out.  Bradley tries an audacious volley from range but strikes through the ball with beautiful form and fires his shot into the upper ninety.  2-0 U.S.A. on what has been called the best strike in recent memory for the Nats.  See the shot for yourself (and also Jurgen Klinsmann’s priceless reaction) http://imgon.net/di-QLL5.gif Continue reading

FC Buffalo – AFC Cleveland Match Report

On Sunday afternoon I attended my first FC Buffalo match, the teams’s third game of the 10 game season and their second meeting against AFC Cleveland, a Rust Belt Derby rival.  While much of the first half was a boring physical contest, the second half lit up and the four goal game did not disappoint.

FC Buffalo’s starting lineup was (4-4-2): Eric DeHond; Kendell McFayden, Josh Hall, Josiah Snelgrove, Jake Rinow; Gary Boughton, Matt Stedman, Josh Faga, Mike Reidy; Andy Tiedt, Alexander Rouse.

The team had 3 players who were busy graduating college during the last match in McFayden, Rouse and Hall, who didn’t make the trip to Cleveland for the club’s 4-2 loss last weekend.  This week’s rematch featured all three players as starters and the team improved to a draw. Continue reading

In-Depth Match Report of the Rhinos U.S. Open Cup Victory

Since their first round U.S. Open Cup victory away to Portland Phoenix, Brooklyn Italians managed to earn another three points in the league.  Their win against New York Athletic Club moved the Italians to 12 points from four games in the National Premier Soccer League Northeast Atlantic Conference (but some might lead you to believe that the Italians somehow managed a 10-1-1 record out of four games; who knew that was possible).  In their weekend action, the Rhinos drew Dayton Dutch Lions at home 1-1.  A late header from Quavas Kirk salvaged a point from their match on Friday after giving up their first goal in league play this season.

After a flurry of chances for the Rhinos in the first few minutes of the game, the pace of the match slowed down.  It appeared that Rochester was lured down to the Italians level of physical long ball play trying to find their target forward.  There wasn’t much possession or creativity out of the midfield from other side for twenty minutes.

The Rhinos lined up in a 4-4-1-1 in front of Kristian Nicht. Jack Traynor and Troy Roberts (captain) partnered in the center of defense, Mike Zaher played left back and Quavas Kirk played on the right.  In the midfield, Conor Chinn started wide left which pushed Danny Earls into the middle with Tyler Rosenlund.  J.C. Banks played his normal right wing and Tam McManus once again excelled at his role playing behind a target forward, this time Andrew Hoxie.

Because of McManus’ position between the midfield and lone forward, Rochester’s wingers had the freedom to push forward.  That meant that if Hoxie pulled over to one side of the field to combine with a wide player, McManus occupied the center of the box while the far side winger could make a run to far post or to the space at the near post that Hoxie and McManus opened up for him.  This consistently happened allowing Conor Chinn several clear chances at goal throughout the game. Continue reading

Disappointing Play-Off Exit for the Rhinos

I did not watch Friday night’s game but I followed the twitter feeds about the match that quickly got out of hand.  As the top seed in the National Division, Rochester Rhinos secured the right to host Harrisburg City Islanders for the divisional final play-off encounter.  Rochester’s usual passing style of play was abruptly and systematically interrupted by hard tackles and chippy plays off the ball. Continue reading

Regular Season Finale

Tonight I attended the last game of the regular season for the Rochester Rhinos of USL-PRO.  Despite what could best be described as “inclement weather,” the Rhinos took the field at Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday night and absolutely dominated the run of play against a vastly inferior Pittsburgh Riverhounds team.  The scoreline of 1-0 does not do the Rhinos justice in a game they controlled from the outset.  More thoughts after the jump…

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