Is there such a thing as a moral victory when the Rhinos headed to Montreal yesterday and once again lost and once again got shut out?
Montreal led in shots and had twice as many shots on frame as the Rhinos. So, it's not like the Rhinos completely dominated the match and the Impact got a lucky counterattack goal to win it. Although, the Rhinos can look to new addition Jamie Holmes hitting the crossbar as just the latest bit of bad luck in Montreal.
Looking at the standings and the schedule, things can either get better or worse. The same goes for the injury report where Scott Vallow could be starting on Friday night versus Carolina. Or, you can wonder how soon Matthew Delicate and Kenney Bertz can get back into match shape given their lengthy time off that could end soon. Delicate could get his jaw unwired this week or next and Bertz has about two weeks left until he gets the pins removed from his wrist, so they should be in shape by the time the playoffs roll around.
The bottom line is that this team is expected to win more hardware than this team has of late. And maybe it's not just the talent that those old Rhinos teams had that is missing. Perhaps it's the work ethic, the willingness of players like Mike Kirmse and Nate Daligcon to come off the bench and provide a spark, and perhaps it's the grit exhibited by Yari Allnutt playing with a broken rib.
Maybe this team needs a golden lunch bucket that goes to the best practice player for the week and a green hard hat for the hardest worker in each game.
Whatever this team needs to do, it needs to get to a point where they are getting real victories and not just moral ones.
Zimny and the Freedom get a title and the Rhinos almost get third place
The Washington Freedom were clearly the class of the W-League Final Four at PAETEC Park over the weekend. Their 3-0 win over the host Rhinos in Friday's semifinal could easily have been a much larger margin of victory had the Rhinos not come out in a 4-5-1 early and had the Freedom not taken the foot off the gas in the second half to rest players for Sunday's final.
But, the Rhinos did well to recover from that defeat and play the Seattle Sounders very tough in a 2-1 loss in the consolation game. The fact that 15 year old Brittany Kinmond was the lone Rhino to score on the weekend showed that the USL is about developing players for the future. Especially given that two of the Rhinos best players all season were high schoolers as Gretchen Miller was the team MVP even before she starts her Duke Blue Devil soccer career.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Rhinos Women program. Will there end up being a need for Coach Peter Amos to give some younger players time over the weekend, most notably backup goalkeeper Taz Robertson, if Rochester gets a team in the new women's pro league?
But the weekend should be remembered for the skill that the Freedom played the game. Even with the Atlanta Silverbacks pulling to within 2-1 in the second half, the result was never really in doubt. And when Washington iced the game with a late goal to give them the final margin of victory, they could celebrate another trophy headed to the nation's capital.
And the Zimny clan could celebrate another title for one of their own.
News & Notes:
- If you have Dish Network, check out your free preview of Setanta Sports on channel 406. It runs through September 9th, which is nice since the European season is set to kick off this week in most countries.
- In case you missed the ESPN2 broadcast last night, Beckham was in a suit and sat on the bench when the Galaxy played at Toronto. I wonder if the TFC fans felt any better about the money they shelled out for the game when compared to their FC Dallas counterparts who didn't even get to taunt Beckham in person.
- Former USMNT goalkeeper Brad Friedel is getting into the soccer academy business. With the business being set in suburban Cleveland, I wonder if Drew Carey envisions Brad in goal for a Cleveland MLS team one day?
- US Soccer.com has a cool article on Sal Zizzo ahead of his move to Germany.
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.