New England Soccer Today

Rhinos Update 8/11

Photo credit: Rochester Rhinos

Photo credit: Rochester Rhinos

It’s been an interesting, yet frustrating past few weeks for the Rochester Rhinos. When we last checked in on the Rhinos (i.e. before I went on vacation), they held a strong lead in the USL Eastern Conference and were chasing the USL record of starting the season with 22 consecutive games without losing. Yet the past two weeks, the momentum in Rochester has suddenly come to a screeching halt with a pair of disappointing results and a key injury to a familiar face.

August 1st – Rhinos Undefeated Season Snapped

After going undefeated through their first 19 games of the season, the Rhinos were unable to stretch it to 20. Although you would expect one of their top Eastern Conference rivals to end their unbeaten streak, it was actually a team projected to miss the playoffs as of this writing, but a team that is no stranger to upsets: the Charlotte Independence.

Yes, the Charlotte Independence, who currently have a 6-6-6 record in the USL and a huge 1-0 upset win over the New England Revolution in the U.S. Open Cup defeated Rochester, while scoring an astounding four goals against Rochester. Going into the game, the Rhinos had only allowed six goals in their first 19 matches.

Grant Van De Casteele opened the scoring in the 32nd minute off a corner served by Jonny Mendoza, giving the Rhinos a 1-0 lead. However, it was slow lived as Charlotte struck two minutes later when Alex Martinez finished a Tomasz Zahorski cross to level the score 1-1. Minutes later, Zahorski netted a goal of his own to give the home side a lead heading into halftime.

Enzo Martinez scored in the 51st minute to increase Charlotte’s lead to two goals, before Christian Volesky scored his team-leading seventh goal to draw the Rhinos back within striking distance. However, the Independence again wasted no time in responding when UConn product Carlos Alverez converted a 61st minute penalty kick to put Charlotte up by the score of 4-2, which would hold.

Revolution loanee Timi Mulgrew made a substitute appearance for the Rhinos in the 70th minute.

August 9th – Rhinos Draw Kickers At Home

With a return home to upstate New York, the Rhinos were hoping for three points, which looked like a probability based on the fact they had conceded once in eight games at home and held a 7-0-1 home record entering the game. However, the Richmond Kickers, who are fighting to catch up with Lousville and Charleston in the Eastern Conference standings, turned in a strong performance to draw the Rhinos 1-1.

Alex Dixon assisted Kenardo Forbes’ second goal on the season to put the Rhinos up in the 50th minute. However, similar to the prior week in Charlotte, Rochester conceded almost moments later when Jared Jeffrey scored an unassisted goal in the 53rd minute. The Rhinos’ outshot the Kickers 14-5, but were unable to score a second goal and the 1-1 score held.

Mulgrew also came in off the bench in the match, logging the final 27 minutes for the Rhinos.

Rudy Out for Season

As if it hadn’t been a frustrating enough week for the Rhinos, news came out that one of the two Revolution players loaned to the team, midfielder Tyler Rudy, will be out for the remainder of the USL season with an ankle injury.

More specifically, Rudy suffered a torn superior retinaculum. “It’s the tissue that holds the two ligaments together in the ankle. So that’s torn, so the ligaments are kind of coming out and as they come over it’s ripping more. Essentially I spoke to the doctors in New England and the gameplan is to wear the boot for seven weeks,” Rudy told Brendan Doherty of The Bent Musket. “There’s a 50/50 chance it heals on its own. But if not, surgery is required. We’ve been waiting because they couldn’t have operated anyway because of the swelling and the trauma from the injury.”

With 6-7 weeks remaining in the USL regular season, and an additional 3-4 weeks of additional rehabilitation needed even if surgery isn’t required, Rudy’s season is abruptly over. Rudy finishes the season with a total of 641 minutes in 14 games played (six starts), which doesn’t include his appearance for the Revolution in the U.S. Open Cup. Rudy had two assists and registered two shots on goal. The Georgetown product also collected three yellow cards and one red card. It is a disappointing end to a promising USL season for Rudy, who had become a regular in the Rhinos’ rotation.

Rochester Still In First Place

Despite taking only one point out of a possible six over the past two weeks, and losing Rudy for the season, the Rhinos still maintain a strong lead of first place in the USL Eastern Conference. Louisville City FC sits six points behind Rochester (but has played one fewer game), while the Charleston Battery is nine points behind.

The Road Ahead

Rochester started their season with five straight road games, and will be rewarded in the coming weeks, as they play their next three matches at home and close the season with five at home in the last seven.

On Saturday, Rochester will host the Wilmington Hammerheads, who sit in last place in the USL Eastern Conference with a 3-12-6 record, good for 15 points in 21 games. They shouldn’t be taken lightly, however, as they fought the Rhinos hard in their first matchup of the season: a 1-1 draw in Wilmington on May 16th.

The following Saturday (Aug. 22), the Rhinos will play the Harrisburg City Islanders, who currently are on the outside looking in on the playoff hunt. Harrisburg sports a 8-7-4 record with 28 points through 19 games. They currently are three points behind the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, four points behind New York Red Bulls II, and five points behind the Richmond Kickers, but also has played two fewer games than Pittsburgh and three fewer than New York and Richmond. Similar to Wilmington, Rochester has drawn Harriburg in their only USL matchup of the season, a 1-1 draw on June 19th. The Rhinos did defeat the Islanders 3-1 in extra time in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

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