September 25, 2009
Outside of the lapse after John Ball scored to make it 2-0, the Rhinos have to be pretty happy with how the 1st leg of their Quarterfinal series with the Puerto Rico Islanders went.
Seven minutes in, Islanders defender Cristian Arrieta was shown a straight red card for head butting John Ball. Not only did that give the Rhinos a man advantage, but also left the Islanders without one of the better attacking outside backs in the league.
The Rhinos dodged a bullet when Kenney Bertz cleared a ball off the line in the first half that had Puerto Rico appealing for a goal. But like the Rhinos had happen last week, the officials weren't going to give the attacking team the benefit of the doubt on a close call like that.
To start the second half, Darren Tilley made some changes that really turned the tide of the game. Tai Atieno replaced Ze Roberto and John Ball pushed up into the midfield in a transformation from a 4-51 to a 3-5-2 formation.
Both Atieno and Ball were instrumental in the Rhinos getting more pressure on the Islanders who had plenty of heavy legs.
The Rhinos were able to break through with their first goal against Puerto Rico when Kenney Bertz unleashed a bomb from well outside the box that a screened and hurting Bill Gaudette couldn't get to.
Seven minutes later, John Ball scored on perhaps the most patient goal in Rhinos history as Nano Short held the ball in the Islanders box for what felt like forever. He slotted a pass to Ball who held onto the Ball for a while before turning and scoring.
Then the Rhinos let Nicholas Addlery get through the defense less than a minute later as he scored on a shot that Scott Vallow would probably like to have back.
But, I like the spot the Rhinos are in even if the Islanders are saying that they expect to drop 3 goals on the Rhinos on Sunday.
The Rhinos have played Puerto Rico to a scoreless draw on the road once this season and the Islanders looked beat up last night.
We shall see.........
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.