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.

Looking at the 2015 NASL Fall Season Schedule

On Tuesday, January 20, the NASL announced the schedule for the 2015 Fall Season. Each of the 11 teams in the NASL this year will play each other twice for a total of 20 matches. Because of the odd number of participants in 2015, one team will have a bye and will sit out during every regular 5-game weekend fixture list.

The format is similar to the 2015 Spring Season that the NASL released on Wednesday, December 20. The spring campaign will see each team play each other once for a total of 10 matches before the mid-summer break in league play.

Since the NASL instituted the split-season format in 2013, the season has generally maintained a length from the beginning of April until the start of November.

The 2015 spring campaign will last from 04/04/15 until 06/13/15 and the 2015 fall campaign will last from 07/04/15 until 11/01/15.
The 2014 spring campaign lasted from 04/12/14 until 06/08/14 and the 2014 fall campaign lasted from 07/12/14 until 11/02/14.
The 2013 spring campaign lasted from 04/06/13 until 07/04/13 and the 2013 fall campaign lasted from 08/03/13 until 11/02/13.

The total NASL schedule has fluctuated only very slightly since its inception between 26 and 30 games for each team (not counting New York’s 2013 season).

2011: 28 total games
2012: 28 total games
2013: 12+14, 26 total games for 7/8 teams
2014: 9+18, 27 total games for 10 teams
2015: 10+20, 30 total games for 11 teams

The 2015 Fall Campaign will see each team play 20 games, 10 at home and 10 on the road, across 18 weeks. This format requires each team to play two mid-week games during the split season, an increase from just one in 2014.

There are three Friday night matches that are parts of the regular 5-game weekend fixture list. None of the teams that play on Friday will have played since the previous Saturday except for Carolina, who play the Sunday before: August 30 and September 4.

The league will play two games on Tuesday nights, Atlanta hosting Minnesota on September 15 and New York hosting Ottawa on September 22. Atlanta doesn’t play the weekend before that match while Minnesota plays the Saturday before. Both New York and Ottawa play on the Saturday prior their Tuesday meeting.

Teams will compete in 18 Wednesday night games to round out 20 total mid-week matches. Only two Wednesday night games feature a team that played the previous Sunday, all other teams playing the Friday or Saturday before. This ensures that for all but those two games, teams will have at least 3 full days in between games to travel, recuperate, and train between league fixtures. The two exceptions are when Edmonton hosts Ottawa on August 2 before hosting Indy on Wednesday, August 5, and when New York hosts Atlanta on October 4 before Atlanta hosts the return fixture on Wednesday, October 7.

Despite the difficulties of have an odd number of teams, the NASL maintained its commitment to a balanced schedule and proper rest between matches.

USL Pro Attendance Recap: April 28, 2014

Here’s the current team average home attendance as of Monday, April 28.
Sacramento Republic FC (1):     20231
Rochester Rhinos (1):                 6358
Orlando City SC (3):                    4777
OKC Energy FC (1):                    4230
Richmond Kickers (1+):               3507
Charleston Battery (3):                 3234
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2):          3078
Wilmington Hammerheads (2):     2945
Arizona United SC (3):                  2907
Harrisburg City Islanders (1):        1711
Charlotte Eagles (3):                      855
Orange County Blues FC (4):        847
LA Galaxy II (5):                              779
Dayton Dutch Lions (2):                 775

 

Let’s start at the top with the three highest “drawing” clubs in USL Pro. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that the number posted for the announced attendance may not equal the actual persons in seats and that the actual figure may not resemble what you saw on the livestream because there are also seats under the camera.

But back to the top three clubs:
Sacramento Republic FC; 20,231 = Holy wow!
The Republic are the toast of the town in American soccer after selling out Hughes Stadium for Saturday’s night home opening loss to Harrisburg. Get this: Sacramento has a higher 2014 season average than all of USL Pro (clearly, more than 3x), all of NASL (3x more than all but Indy Eleven), and 12 of the 19 MLS clubs. Sacramento outdrew the overall MLS average attendance for 2013 and for the first 8 weeks of 2014. The question for Sacramento is whether the team can replicate that figure for the next two home games before moving to the 8,000 capacity venue at Cal Expo for the remainder of the season.

Rochester Rhinos; 6358 = Is it for real?
I ask this question not only for the attendance figures but also for the results the club has grabbed so far. Rochester has been for a number of years the primary target of cynical internet users’ ire over bloated attendance numbers based on a range of evidence and delusions. This year’s home opener is better than 2013’s gate (Harrisburg City Islanders, 5963) but not quite as impressive as 2012’s first match Sahlen’s Stadium (Charlotte Eagles, 7953). As with that opening number, the results appear to be sandwiched between 2013 and 2012, which is fine by me.

Orlando City SC; 4777 = Coasting, or…
Orlando City received some (undue, in my opinion) criticism for the perceived notion that the club had nothing left to prove for the 2014 season. The Lions’ prowess over the previous three season in USL Pro had garnered the attention of MLS and, having been awarded an expansion franchise for 2015, Orlando had made it. While the team may be playing at a cramped venue in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. While the numbers just shy of 5,000 may not approach 2013’s 8,053 or even 2012’s 6606, Orlando is in no danger of losing too many of the 20,886 fans that turned up to the USL Pro Playoff Final last year against Charlotte ahead of its debut in MLS returning to the Citrus Bowl.

As for notable figures from the remaining 11 clubs:

OKC Energy FC; 4230 = Promising for a shiny new thing
You wouldn’t be wrong to accuse me of being cynical about lower division soccer. In USL Pro we’ve seen teams come and go (6 teams, to be precise) but potential organizational support from Sporting KC may provide the foundation for success for the 2014 expansion side. OKC Energy FC sold out the game and then sold “obstructed view” walk-up tickets for more than most teams charge for general admission. Good on them but similar to Sacramento (and as we’ve seen with the NASL’s Indy Eleven this year and to the opposite effect NY Cosmos last year) the second game is much more indicative of the strength of a team’s penetration in its market than the home opener. Will OKC’s next match at Pribil Stadium against OC Blues on May 10 bring a similar crowd of high-3000 or low-4000?

Orange County Blues FC; 847 = Has rebranding had an effect?
Through 4 games last season, the (then LA) Blues averaged 659 and finished the year between 542 and 718 [my number, missing three games, and Kenn‘s which includes super secret special detective numbers]. I’d like to say that the rebrand to the Orange County moniker and the move to UC Irvine from Cal State Fullerton and a myriad other venues, a stabilization I begged for over the past two years, has been successful but hte jury is still out.

Dayton Dutch Lions; 775 = The little locomotief that could?
I gosh-darn hope so.
I apologize for the expletive language above but I want this club to succeed so badly. Now with VSI Tampa Bay FC Flames rightly extricated from the league, Dayton holds the unwanted tag of “Lowest Drawing Club in USL Pro.” I know a certain leader of the
rechterhand van de leeuwen who deserves larger numbers not only in the Oranje Legion but overall in the Dutch Lion’s home, and maybe that’ll happen at DOC.

A lot of the other numbers are what has come to be expected. Pittsburgh (in the still shiny Highmark Stadium), Wilmington, Richmond, and Charleston will form the solid middle of USL Pro. Arizona United SC has started out well but so did Phoenix FC last year; hopefully this club can maintain its current position in the middle of the pack. LA Galaxy II isn’t trying to win attendance awards but the Eagles will want to leave a lasting mark before it sells its market franchise rights.

Former Rhinos Players Update: April 21, 2014

Players on NASL teams:

Mike Ambersley (2006-2007); forward, Indy Eleven: played up top for the full match in 1-1 draw
Chris Estridge (2012-2013); fullback; Indy Eleven: played the full match as a right back
Kristian Nicht (2012-2013); goalkeeper, Indy Eleven: played the full match in goal

Connor Tobin (2011); defender, Carolina RailHawks: started in central defense, played the full match in a 4-1 win

Chris Nurse (2009); midfielder, Fort Lauderdale Strikers: started in central midfield, played the whole match, and scored a goal in a 4-1 loss

Aaron Pitchkolan (2010); defender/midfielder, Minnesota United FC: started in central midfield in 2-1 win
Tyler Polak (2013); fullback, Minnesota United FC: sat on the bench

Carlos Mendes (2003-2004); defender, NY Cosmos: played the full match in central defense in a 1-0 win

Tony Donatelli (2011); midfielder, Ottawa Fury FC: started in central midfield, played 87 minutes in a 2-1 loss
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (2013); winger, Ottawa Fury FC: started on the left wing and played the full 90

Frankie Sanfilippo (2005-2006, 2010); defender, Tampa Bay Rowdies: played the full match at right back in a 1-1 draw

 

Players on USL Pro teams:

Brad Stisser (2011); forward, Arizona United SC: 35 minutes as a sub in a 2-1 win

John Wilson (2004); defender, Charleston Battery: started and played 90 minutes in 1-1 draw

Bilal Duckett (2013); defender, Charlotte Eagles: Team didn’t have a match

Andrew Hoxie (2010-2013); forward, Orange County Blues FC: was not in the squad

Alfonso Motagalvan (2010-2011); central midfielder, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: dressed but did not play
Danny Earls (2008-2009, 2012-2013); fullback/midfield, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: started and played 90 minutes in 2-2 draw

Matthew Delicate (2006-2008); forward, Richmond Kickers: 78 minutes off the bench in 2-2 draw

 

Players abroad:

Tam McManus (2012-2013); forward, Limerick FC (League of Ireland): played 51 minutes and scored a the winning goal in a 2-1 against Athlone Town on Friday and then played 31 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Derry City

Matt Horth (2013); forward, Leiknir Reykvajik: The Icelandic second division league doesn’t start until May

Johnny Menyongar (2006-2009); attacking midfielder, Bengaluru FC (Indian I-League): Menyongar scored the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win that clinched the title for Bengaluru in its first season with a round of matches left to play. Menyongar has been crucial for Bengaluru throughout its title-winning campaign.

 

If you can think of any guys that I’ve overlooked or forgotten (especially guys playing abroad), be sure to show off and list them below. Thanks.

Checking in on Former Rhinos’ Players

Players on NASL teams:

Mike Ambersley (2006-2007); forward, Indy Eleven: scored a goal in 1-1 draw
Chris Estridge (2012-2013); fullback; Indy Eleven: started at right back
Kristian Nicht (2012-2013); goalkeeper, Indy Eleven: started in goal for the club’s debut match

Connor Tobin (2011); defender, Carolina RailHawks: started in central defense

Chris Nurse (2009); midfielder, Fort Lauderdale Strikers: started in central midfield in the Strikers 2-0 win

Aaron Pitchkolan (2010); defender/midfielder, Minnesota United FC: started in central midfield for Minnesota United in a 2-0 away victory
Tyler Polak (2013); fullback, Minnesota United FC: did not dress

Carlos Mendes (2003-2004); defender, NY Cosmos: played 90 minutes and scored twice as the Cosmos easily swept the Silverbacks aside

Tony Donatelli (2011); midfielder, Ottawa Fury FC: substitute
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (2013); winger, Ottawa Fury FC: substitute

Frankie Sanfilippo (2005-2006, 2010); defender, Tampa Bay Rowdies: started at right back for Tampa Bay in a 1-1 draw

 

Players on USL Pro teams:

Brad Stisser (2011); forward, Arizona United SC: did not dress

John Wilson (2004); defender, Charleston Battery: started and played 90 minutes in 1-0 loss to Orlando

Bilal Duckett (2013); defender, Charlotte Eagles: started and played 90 minutes in 2-1 win over Richmond

Andrew Hoxie (2010-2013); forward, Orange County Blues FC: did not dress

Alfonso Motagalvan (2010-2011); central midfielder, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: dressed but did not play
Danny Earls (2008-2009, 2012-2013); fullback/midfield, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: started and played 90 minutes in a 4-3 loss

Matthew Delicate (2006-2008); forward, Richmond Kickers: late game substitute in 2-1 loss to Charlotte

 

Players abroad:

Tam McManus (2012-2013); forward, Limerick FC (League of Ireland): late-game substitute appearance against Bohemians

Matt Horth (2013); forward, Leiknir Reykvajik: The Icelandic second division league doesn’t start until May

Johnny Menyongar (2006-2009); attacking midfielder, Bengaluru FC (Indian I-League): The team was not in action this past weekend but Menyongar has been a mainstay in the team, playing every minute of every match for league-leading Bengaluru FC

 

If you can think of any guys that I’ve overlooked or forgotten (especially guys playing abroad), be sure to show off and list them below. Thanks.

A (small) Look at the Trialists with Rochester Rhinos

Yesterday the team announced that it had added rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy, collegiate stand-out midfielder Minh Vu, and once-promising French forward Steve Pinau to the roster.

Today, the Rhinos released the names of 17 players who will join the team’s pre-season training camp on Monday hoping to earn a place on the squad. The recent signings still leave Kyle Hoffer and Ayao Sossou as the only defenders under contract and as such most of the players brought in for trials with the team are natural defenders.

Goalkeepers:
Brandon Miller was the back-up to Kristian Nicht for the past two seasons after a collegiate career at UNC-Wilmington. He made five league appearances for the team but never really got a chance to shine as Nicht started 92% of matches in that time.

Malick Faye started 71 matches for upstate New York’s SUNY IT during his four seasons and managed to add an assist to his consistent shot-stopping.

A native of Chicago’s suburbs, Brett Petricek was a record setting goalkeeper for Niagara University for his two years with the team in 2011 and 2012.

Defenders:
Tyler Bellamy joined the Rhinos in 2010 during Bob Lilley’s previous stint coaching the team. Bellamy has played in 70 league matches in the past four seasons and coaches have noted the defender’s versatility across the backline.

Justin Clark is a 25 year old defender from Atlanta, Georgia, who played in 10 league matches for Orlando City over the past two seasons.

Kevin Cope was highly rated heading into January’s MLS SuperDraft and Philadelphia Union selected him early in the second round with the 25th overall pick. Some really clever dude had the following to say about Cope leading up the draft:

Cope may not have the imposing size or flash of more highly touted central defenders (he stands six-foot-one and weighs 175 pounds), but the Michigan State senior seems to possess the necessary traits to develop into a solid MLS defender—positioning, tackling, calmness on the ball, and work ethic. Cope was named the 2012 USL-PDL Defender of the Year for his play with the club Michigan Bucks, and the hard-working defender might impress a coaching staff during pre-season training if given the chance.

Iarfhlaith Davoren is an Irish left back, most recently with Sligo Rovers, who is aiming to fill the boots of his compatriot Danny Earls.

Oddly enough, Pat McMahon was part of a program alongside former Rhino Quavas Kirk touring Europe when he earned a contract with Sweden’s Ljungskile SK, the club Alex Horwath moved to about a month ago.

Matt Gaskins just finished his junior season at the University of Central Florida where the 5’5″ fullback registered 7 assists in his three years.

Shawn Nicklaw is a right back who played with Danish club HB Køge before spending 2013 with Wilmington Hammerheads. Nicklaw logged 1843 minutes across 21 appearances, notching a goal but also adding three assists.

Jordan Thomas is a player who grew his game year after year at the University of New Hampshire. Thomas played in 75 matches, registering 18 points in four year but 10 of them in his senior season. He has so far played in all 19 of the Pennsylvania Roar’s matches this season in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Midfielders:
Johnny Mendoza played with Orlando City’s u-23 team in the Premier Development League in 2012 before signing with the first team last year. The 24 year old Colombian made 20 appearances, including 15 starts, in a very competitive Orlando midfield last year.

Charles Howard joined Elon University in 2012 after a successful junior college career where he played with last year’s loanee Gabe Latigue. The midfielder was actually born and raised in West Philadelphia though I’m unsure if he got caught in any trouble caused by a couple guys from the neighborhood while he was just trying to shoot some b-ball outside of the school.

Argentina-native Nicolas Olsak played 49 games for Belmont University, scoring 11 goals and providing 25 assists in four year. Olsak attended the InfoSport Combine in Florida in early January where he was spotted by coaches.

Mike Garzi finished his collegiate career at Colgate University with 71 appearances, 62 starts, 4 goals, and 8 assists.

Forwards:
Alex Dixon is a former US youth international who spent three seasons with Houston Dynamo in MLS. While only featuring sparingly, Dixon played more effectively during a brief loan-spell with Tampa Bay Rowdies of NASL last year.

Colin Rolfe was a Houston Dynamo first round draft pick in 2012 but only featured in a 28 minute cameo in the U.S. Open Cup before the team waived him at the end of the year. The 24 year old also played in 9 matches in the MLS Reserve League (before the included USL-Pro teams) and scored two goals.

A Quick Response to First Eleven Podcast: Episode 14

This is going to be brief because I was already thoroughly mean about a previous episode of the podcast, which I do enjoy listening to and encourage anyone who reads this to do as well.

 

So apparently the guys at First Eleven are running with the “we’re just gonna make stuff up on air” thing?

With regard to the LA Galaxy II, Evan is just factually wrong.

This is way too good to pass up. Right after co-host Evan makes a flippant comment joking about not checking facts or doing research, he says a bunch of half-true stuff and then completely makes something up.

Portland Timbers do have a long-standing PDL team that began play in 2009 while the senior Timbers were still playing in USL. Vancouver Whitecaps had a reserve team first that played in the regional Pacific Coast Soccer League initially but still joined PDL before Portland. Chicago Fire has had a team in the PDL since 2001, in addition to another affiliated team in NPSL established in 2008. New York Red Bulls have had a team in the NPSL since 2010.

Almost all MLS academy graduates go to college; NCAA soccer does still exist. MLS Homegrown claims on academy graduates carry over while a player is in college and playing for unaffiliated PDL teams in the summer.

“Everyone that is playing for LA Galaxy II will be a signed player by the LA Galaxy and have the opportunity to move up the pipeline.”

Nope.

The players on USL contracts playing with LA Galaxy II will have no special mechanism to “move up” to the first team. Any MLS team, including the Galaxy itself, would have to file a discovery claim on any player signed to a USL contract by LA Galaxy II. This is the same process for any player signed to a USL contract by any team in USL-Pro.

 

So is the joke on me if a host made a joke about not doing research before saying something that he just made up?