Heading into last evening's game in Montreal, the Rhinos hadn't scored a goal in their last 10 games at Claude-Robillard Sports Complex. Rochester scored its last goal in Montreal on July, 23, 2000 in a 3-1 win.
Given it's recent struggles to produce consistent offense and the fact that Greg Howes (toe), Juninho DaSilva (groin), and Rey Martinez (thigh/visa) weren't available for the Rhinos last evening, it was hard to expect the Rhinos offensive woes to change in Montreal.
Coach Calloway once again shook up the starting lineup both due to injury, but also in an attempt to find an offensive unit that clicks. Up top, rookie Mike Ambersley started next to Matthew Delicate. In the midfield rookie Danny Kramer got the start out wide on the right side with Johnny Menyongar in the middle, Aaran Lines out left, and T-Bone Bonseu in the defensive midfield spot. The defensive unit was unchanged from Saturday's match versus Montreal with Nate Craft, Kenney Bertz, Scott Palguta, and Frankie Sanfilippo starting in front of goalkeeper Scott Vallow. Hey, if things aren't broke defensively, then why change them up?
The substitute's bench had a few fresh faces. Kevin Taylor was the lone defender on the bench with Jason Perry out due to a stomach bug and Ricky Lewis not making the trip. Charles Gbeke and Connally Edozien were the forwards on the bench. John Ball, Josh Bolton, and Neil Dombrowski were the midfielders that were available off the bench. Dombrowski was the late addition to the bench when Greg Howes was unable to go after suffering a toe injury late in practice on Tuesday. The Rhinos brought 19 players to Montreal with the hope that Howes could go with a day's rest. But, the injury didn't allow that to happen, so Dombrowski got to dress.
The Rhinos actually played pretty well. The fresh blood in the starting lineup gave the Impact a little different look and it seemed to give them some problems. Unfortunately, that all changed in the 25th minute when Montreal got a free kick 25 yards out from the Rhino goal. Impact midfielder Patrick Leduc took the free kick and defender Nevio Pizzolitto broke free from his mark to nod it past Scott Vallow to give the Impact a 1-0 lead.
But, the Rhinos didn't wilt after the Montreal goal. Eight minutes after the Impact scored, the Rhinos came awfully close to equalizing. Aaran Lines found Danny Kramer all alone on the right side of the box. Kramer beat Impact goalkeeper Andrew Weber. Unfortunately, ex-Rhino Gabriel Gervais was there to save the day for the home side as he cleared the ball off the line and out for a corner kick.
The match got to halftime with the score still at 1-0.
Montreal came out with a little more pressure coming out of the locker room after the half. Another ex-Rhino, Mauro Biello, almost set up fellow forward Daniel Antoniuk early in the second half. But, the former Portland Timber forward was unable to connect on the pass from Biello. Biello also had a good chance in the 65th minute that was saved by Vallow.
Then the Rhinos get the chance that they almost never get in Montreal. In the 69th minute, Montreal goalkeeper came out and up ended Rhinos forward Matthew Delicate in the box. While Weber claims he slipped and it shouldn't have been a penalty and the Rhinos were hoping for a red card, the referee split the difference in giving Weber a yellow card and awarding a penalty kick to the Rhinos. Second half substitute Connally Edozien, who had entered the match about five minutes earlier, was given the opportunity to level the match for the Rhinos. However, Edozien struck the penalty with the side of his foot, Weber guessed correctly, and the score remained at 1-0 for Montreal.
And that is how the match would end. So now the Rhinos have gone 11 games in a row in Montreal without scoring a goal and they are looking up at both Montreal and Vancouver in the standings.
Last night in the US Open Cup
The Rhinos found out who they will be hosting on Wednesday, July 12th in the 3rd round of the 2006 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tournament as the New Hampshire Phantoms defeated Milford International 4-1 last evening. Milford actually took an early lead with a 15th minute goal by Michael Butler. However, the hosts got a goal from Nick Tornaritas in the 27th minute to tie the match. The Phantoms then scored three times in the second half to advance.
The big upset of the evening was in Dallas where Miami FC fell 1-0 to Dallas FC Roma of the USASA. The hosts were given a 13th minute penalty kick when Zinho was called for a hand ball in the penalty area. John Waters converted on the kick and the hosts held on for the win. They will take on Chivas USA in the 3rd round.
In other US Open Cup action, ex-Rhino Greg Simmonds got the loan goal of the match as Virginia Beach defeated the Arizona Sahuaros. Tomas Boltnar scored the loan goal of the match as the Des Moines Menace defeated the Minnesota Thunder 1-0. The Carolina Dynamo defeated the Richmond Kickers 1-0 on a Ben Hunter goal. The Michigan Bucks defeated the Cincinnati Kings 2-1. Anthony Maher scored twice in the last 10 minutes to give the Wilmington Hammerheads a 3-1 win over the Charlotte Eagles. And the Charleston Battery got a goal from Ben Hollingsworth to advance past the Somoma County Sol 1-0.
MLS needs to stop having Wednesday night games
MLS had 5 games last night.
And the average attendance?
The only team to draw over 10,000 was the Chicago Fire. And they couldn't get 11,000 fans into brand spanking new Toyota Park.
Montreal drew 11,369 fans to the match versus the Rhinos last evening. One big reason could be the $5 ticket for kids 18 and under that the Impact have. That's something that MLS teams might want to look into. Heck, the Rhinos might want to look into that one before too long, as well.
MLS needs to ban Wednesday night games in the future, IMO.
Some other notes:
- NE had the smallest announced crowd of the evening of 7247. That dropped their season average to 10734. That's 261 fans per match fewer than the Rhinos.
- NY's crowd of 7783 dropped their non-Big Event average to 9061 fans per match.
- Overall MLS' average attendance has dipped below 15,000 fans per game to 14,846.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.