With two more goals on Saturday night, Hamed Diallo more than likely has cemented the fact that he will be the 2007 Rhinos MVP.
Chase Harrison was back in goal for the Rhinos, but the Rhinos gave up two early goals. The first was off a counterattack that was started when Johnny Menyongar passed the ball behind Aaran Lines and sent the Thunder off to the races with only Kevin Novak back as the Rhinos had pressed forward for a corner kick. Harrison was helpless when Darren Spicer sent Sinisa Ubiparipovic in alone on the Rhinos keeper.
The Rhinos "second ball syndrome" became "first ball syndrome" on the Thunder's second goal when Ansu Toure's dead ball cross was allowed to land in the Rhinos box and former Rhino defender put the sitter away for a 2-0 Minnesota lead after only twelve minutes of play.
However, Diallo quickly brought the Rhinos back into the game. In the 17th minute, Danny Kramer, who played his best match of 2007 on Saturday night, whipped a cross into the box that Chad Severs barely got a piece of. Luckily, the ball continued on right to Diallo who put it away to bring the Rhinos within a goal.
Diallo almost tied the game up a minute later when Johnny Menyonger found Diallo in front of the Minnesota goal. However, Diallo missed the side volley and sent his shot wide of the Thunder net.
Diallo would make up for that miss in the 19th minute when he headed home another Kramer cross from an extremely tight angle. Diallo 9th goal of the USL 1st Division season pushed Hamed ahead of Charleston's Byron Alvarez for the league league in goals. Diallo's 18 points are two behind Atlanta's Daniel Antoniuk for the USL 1st Division lead.
In the 31st minute, the Rhinos would get the game winner from an unlikely source. Aaran Lines took a free kick that amounted to a short corner and he found defender T-Bone Bonseu just outside the Minnesota six yard box. Bonseu pounded the header home for his second goal of the season.
And just before halftime, the Rhinos got an insurance goal when Chad Severs scored his second goal of the season and his first career goal at PAETEC Park when Menyongar found him alone near the top of the Minnesota penalty area.
The second half was largely uneventful aside from the fact that Nate Craft and Mike Ambersley both made late game appearances. Craft has been out since the June 8th game at the Carolina RailHawks where he suffered a knee injury when he was tackled by former Rhino Frankie Sanfilippo. Ambersley last saw the field on July 3rd versus Seattle. He suffered a bruised foot in practice later that week. He was in the 18 man roster versus Seattle last Saturday, but was not brought on to give his foot some more rest.
With Diallo (5 goals in his last 3 games) and Severs (2 goals and 1 assist in his last 3 games) on a roll, John Ball returning following the Pan Am Games, more players getting healthy (Jason Perry, Kenney Bertz, Matthew Delicate, and Scott Vallow should all be back before the end of the regular season), and the Rhinos trying to make some moves before Wednesday's roster freeze, the Rhinos could be peaking at the right time of the year.
W-League Final Four is set
The Washington Freedom were the last team to qualify for the W-League Final Four that will be held at PAETEC Park this Friday and Sunday.
Former US Women's National Team forward Christie Welsh scored in the 24th minute for the Freedom and they were able to make that lead stand up versus the Ottawa Fury who were hosting the W-League's Eastern Conference playoffs.
With the Freedom advancing to Rochester, along with the Atlanta Silverbacks (Central Conference Champs) and Seattle Sounders (Western Conference Champs), that means that Rochester native Casey Zimny, a defender for the Freedom, will be able to play a couple more games at PAETEC Park. Last year, Zimny was a guest player for the Rhinos Women around the 4th of July holiday weekend.
News & Notes from the weekend:
- MLS continued to hold their own in the Superliga over the weekend. Chivas defeated the LA Galaxy, but DC United defeated Club America 1-0 last night, FC Dallas played Pachuca to a 1-1 draw, and Houston tied Monarcas 1-1 as well. With one more round of games left in group play, Club America is the only team that can not advance. It looks right now as if DC, Houston, and Chivas will advance along with the winner of the LA-FC Dallas game. But, as with any tournament, things can change on that final match day of group play.
- In the 72nd minute versus Japan on Saturday night, Abby Wambach converted a PK for the USWNT. That goal, the 75th of her international career, ties the Rochester native with Cindy Parlow for 5th all-time in USWNT history. Ahead of Wambach on the all-time list are the four members of the 100 goal club: Tiffeny Milbrett, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, and Mia Hamm.
- Soccer on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field? It could happen with people trying to land a USMNT game at the all time great NFL venue.
- Landon Donovan to the EPL? While his time with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany didn't work out. Twice. Apparently the LA Galaxy captain is open to the idea of potentially moving to England in the future. Personally, I'd love to see if Donovan has grown enough as a player and as a person to make that jump.
- The Revs appear ready to use their DP slot on an as yet unnamed player. Although, with the way they are going, I'm not sure they need the influx of talent.
- Some more ink on MLS potentially having a team in Vegas, Baby! VEGAS!!!!!!
- Apparently there is a ton of drama with regards to DC United's planned stadium. Although, I'm not sure how I feel about Marion Barry leading the charge in favor of the Poplar Point project.....
- Steven Goff has not one , but two blog posts that talk about the potential Veron to DC deal. While it appears the deal won't happen in time for Veron to join DC this season, he may be moving to MLS this offseason.
- Soccer by Ives is reporting that Marc deGrandpre is out as the Managing Director of Red Bull New York. I'm wondering what took them so long.
- Soccer Sam may be getting NJ Ironmen season tickets. With the expansion indoor team drafting Scott Palguta and Kenney Bertz and now talking to former USMNT goalkeeper Tony Meola, that would appear to be a perfect place for Sam to get his soccer fix over the winter.
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 email@example.com. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.