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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Rhinos Top Binghamton University 4-0 in Preseason as More Trialists Feature

Tam McManus, seen here celebrating a goal for Dunfermline Athletic, got on the score sheet for Rochester in the 6th minute

Rochester Rhinos head coach Jesse Myers started a full strength side against the Binghamton University Bearcats on Saturday morning at Sahlen’s Stadium.  Kristian Nicht started between the pipes and did well to maintain his concentration during the shut-out.  The back four looked like the starting contingent going forward.  Jack Traynor started on the left while Quavas Kirk played on the right.  Troy Roberts partnered Tyler Bellamy in the center of defense as he did much of last season.  The midfield showed some very promising attacking potential for 2012.  J.C. Banks started on the left wing, trialist Danny Earls played on the right flank, while Drew Cost and Tyler Rosenlund played centrally.  Having two highly capable wingers proved a plus for Rochester as they were able to attack from either side.  Tam McManus played as a withdrawn forward with Graciano Brito as the point man of the attack.

The formation could have been a traditional 4-4-2, or a 4-2-3-1 with advanced wingers, but the team most likely operated as a 4-4-1-1.  Scottish forward Tam McManus is the self-proclaimed “number 10” for the Rhinos and likes to pop into spaces and exchange quick passes.The first half was largely the Danny Earls show and I fully expect his effort to be rewarded with a contract.  The Irish trialist had two assists to set up Tam McManus and J.C. Banks in the opening quarter of an hour. Continue reading

Rochester Rhinos: Preseason Preview

One week from today, on March 18, the Rochester (formerly Raging) Rhinos officially kick off their preseason when they take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Peters Township High School in Pittsburgh.  The Rhinos then host five games at Sahlen’s Stadium against 4 colleges and the Montreal Impact u21 side.  The team looks solid in 10 positions on the field to me, and the team is only one of two signings away from the most attractive team to play in Rochester in ten or so years.

The goalkeeping situation got a whole lot more convincing with the addition of Kristian Nicht.  Nicht, 29, will likely be the starter for the Rhinos while 22 year old rookie Brandon Miller will deputize and look to excel in the newly formatted U.S. Open Cup.  Only the Los Angeles Blues boast a goalkeeper with close to the same pedigree and international club experience as Nicht, in Mexican veteran Oscar Duatt.

Below is a rundown of the rest of the roster and my confidence in each position. Continue reading

Rhinos Postseason Update: January 14

Since November the Rochester Rhinos have made three signings, all of a different nature.  In Conor Chinn, the Rhinos signed a striker looking to kick-start his stuttering professional career.  In Brandon Miller, the Rhinos signed a promising young goalkeeper fresh out of college.  And in Quavas Kirk, the Rhinos re-signed a solid performer from the 2011 season.


On Monday December 19, Rhinos fans got an early Christmas present in the form of 24 year old striker Conor Chinn.  Chinn was drafted by the New York Red Bulls in 2010 and made 5 league appearances for the club before being waived after the season.  After a brief spell with Real Salt Lake, Chinn joined Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL in June where he made 10 appearances. Continue reading