20 out of 23 ain't bad


I won't take credit for Chris Albright being in and Frankie Hejduk being out due to Hey Dude's ACL tear.

The big surprise was Jimmy Conrad being named and Gregg Berhalter being left off the squad. But, this is the ultimate "team over talent" choice by Bruce Arena. Conrad is a great locker room guy and won't bristle at the thought of riding the pine and getting a primo view of the greatest sporting event in the world.

Brian Ching over Taylor Twellman appears to have come down to Ching being the better replacement should Brian McBride knock heads with a defender and his face breaks yet again. Add in the fact that Ching has outscored Twellman, Wolff, and Johnson combined early on in the MLS season and Ching's history with Landon Donovan and it shouldn't be as surprising as many will likely make it out to be.

Name the cannon?


I know MLS is trying to build up regional rivalries and all. But having a cannon as the trophy in the Texas Derby is a bit much for me.

Couldn't they have a longhorn skull that the players could pass around?

I just don't want to see Carlos Ruiz mounting the cannon or Pat Onstad getting a hernia trying to pull the cannon around after one side clinches the trophy this season.

The good thing is that this rivalry is shaping up to be a really good one this season. Although, it will be interesting to see how Houston deals with the Big Kahuna making the US World Cup roster.

Real Salt Lakes stadium dreams hit a snag


Is it just me, or is losing $3.4 million on an MLS expansion team good news? I always thought most MLS expansion teams lose money to the tune of $10 million or more.

I'd really love to be able to dig into the numbers and see where all the money is going. Did Real Salt Lake lose money because of the stadium deal that they have with the University of Utah? Or, did they take a big hit because other MLS clubs lost big money and they had to help cover those loses?

Until owning an MLS expansion team is a lock to be a break even proposition, I can't see the Rhinos ownership being gung ho about making the jump even with PaeTec Park coming on line in 29 days.

Montreal at it again


Montreal - 2 games played - 1 goal for - 0 goals allowed

Through two matches this season, the Montreal Impact seem to be sticking to their tried and true formula that has led to past success which is not good if you were expecting the additions of players like Salles and Antoniuk to lead to the Impact playing more wide open, attacking soccer.

Is Pat Ercoli teaching Nick DeSantis how to put people to sleep at soccer matches all over North America?

Who do you try and stop?


Kansas City has the best record in MLS through 5 matches. And they've done it despite the fact that their leading goal scorer has only one goal.

Granted, they do have eight different players tied for the team league in goals.

Perhaps teams should key on Jack Jewsbury and Sasha Victorine who are tied for the team lead in points with four apiece. But looking at how the season has gone so far for the Wizards, it will be interesting to see how much the loss of their two starting forwards and their best defender affects them. If they keep getting contributions from pretty much everyone on their roster, they might be able to keep their heads above water during a tough time that would sink most teams.

It's that time of year again!


That's right Rhinos fans, it's time for a new site design at the internet home of the Rhinos.

I just have one question: is that FieldTurf or real grass as the background?

Devo's Direct Kicks


For all the Rhinos info that the D&C doesn't feel is fit to print, check out D&C Rhinos beat writer Jeff DiVeronica's new blog. The more hits it gets, the easier it will be for Devo to push for more space for Rhinos coverage in the paper.

My favorite part so far is the breakdown of the 19 players that are making the trip this weekend to Miami and Puerto Rico. Slick must be in mourning since Rey Martinez is stuck in Rochester as the Rhinos and USL argue over whether his refugee green card makes him a foreigner or not.

Also, it will be interesting to see how much the loss of Jonathon Bolanos for the year to a knee injury (Bolanos joins rookie Jordan Chirico on the season long IR) causes issues with the Rhinos attack.

Who do I got?

Well, last Saturday I said the Rhinos would win tonight by a 1-0 score. In hindsight, that is probably a tad bit optimistic for this team at this stage. This team is starting to look like the exact opposite of what I saw this team being throughout the preseason. I thought this would be a high scoring team that gave up a lot of goals. But, I like the way the team is looking defensively and it's the offensive cohesion that I have questions about.

But, the real question is will Romario even take off his sunglasses when he takes the field versus the Rhinos tonight? A lot of people expect Romario's presence to be the difference for Miami this evening. Personally, I want to see if Romario actually takes the USL seriously or if he's more interested in hanging out on South Beach.

I'll stick with the 1-0 Rhinos win as a prediction, although a scoreless draw or a 1-0 Miami win wouldn't surprise me, either.

Against the Islanders on Sunday, I'm just hoping that Juninho makes it through the match in one piece. The Islanders came at Juninho early and often last season when the two teams matched up after Juninho came to the Rhinos. The Rhinos can't afford to lose another creative midfield player after the loss of Bolanos.

The Rhinos might be better off playing Aaran Lines out on the left wing, Johnny Menyongar in the middle of the pack, and John Ball out wide to the right and giving Juninho the night off.

My call for the 2nd match of the season: 1-1 tie.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to news@soccersam.com. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.