The first place Vancouver Whitecaps came to town last night as the Rhinos were on their fourth attempt to get a win in PAETEC Park. With a record of 0-1-6 in their last seven and three ties in the first three matches at PAETEC Park, my hopes weren't overly high heading into last night's match up. Add in the fact that the Rhinos are dealing with injuries and poor play in the midfield and they were playing a Bob Lilley coached team, and my hopes weren't even that high for seeing an entertaining matchup on the eve of the 4th of July.
Given that the team played well in the 1-0 loss in Montreal on Wednesday, Coach Calloway came out with the same exact lineup versus Vancouver. Matthew Delicate and Mike Ambersley started up top, Aaran Lines, Johnny Menyongar, Danny Kramer, and T-Bone Bonseu were in the midfield, Nate Craft, Scott Palguta, Kenney Bertz, and Frankie Sanfilippo started on defense, and captain Scott Vallow started in goal yet again.
The game got off to a less than stellar start for the Rhinos. Vancouver carried the vast majority of the play early on. The best chances that the Rhinos were able to create were an Aaran Lines cross that was looking far post for Kramer that skidded off the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Kramer was also close to hooking up with Mike Ambersley on a quick counter, but a Whitecaps defender was able to cut off the pass before Ambersley could get to it.
Other than that, the Whitecaps had the better chances overall. The most disconcerting part of the first half was the amount of times that Vallow was yelling at his defenders or that Sanfilippo was yelling at Kramer. The former being a trend that would last throughout the evening and the later being something that the crowd on the Oak Street side of the park would help out with.
Jonny Steele entered the game late in the first half for the relatively ineffective Lines. Officially, Lines suffered a glute injury. But, the sub could have been made for tactical reasons and I doubt anyone would have had an issue with it.
Thankfully, the half ended with the game still scoreless. Vancouver officially outshot the Rhinos 9-3 and led in corners by a 4-1 margin in the first half of play. I don't even know if the match was that even through the first half.
halftime, Coach Calloway replaced Kramer with John Ball. Apparently
Calloway didn't want to subject Kramer to the verbal abuse that could
be reigned down on the kid from both the lower and upper levels of
stands on the Broad Street side of the stadium. It also looked as if
Ambersley was dropped into the midfield and Menyongar was playing more
up top with Delicate in the second half.
The Rhinos looked a little better in the second half, but Vancouver still seemed to carry most of the play. In the 59th minute Bonseu was replaced by Greg Howes. But, not before Bonseu would receive a little bit of venom from Vallow for a poor clearance of a rebound after Vallow made a great save. Vancouver got a second chance, but it was weak and Vallow handled it easily.
In the 67th minute the Rhinos were finally able to take the lead. John Ball got a cross to Steele who didn't mess around and hammered home the shot for his first goal as a Rhino. Apparently Steele didn't want to make the same mistake that guys like Kramer and Ambersley had made earlier by overpassing and just took a crack at goal that was rewarded.
It didn't take long for the Rhinos to add some insurance. In the 71st minute Scott Palguta took a shot that was blocked. Matthew Delicate was able to clean up the mess for his team leading fifth goal of the season.
With a two goal lead, the Rhinos were able to kill the game. Although, it wasn't without some drama. Vancouver got one dangerous free kick near the top of the box and there were serious issues setting up the wall. Greg Howes was trying to organize the four man wall. But it took way too long, it wasn't really set when the ref blew his whistle, and Vallow had to scramble back into position. Thankfully, the shot went over the crossbar, but Vallow wasn't happy afterward.
Vallow had to make a couple more spectacular saves, but in the end the fireworks after the match were a nice topping to the Rhinos first victory in PAETEC Park.
Scott Vallow - Vallow was once again my Man of the Match. The Rhinos were outplayed for large stretches of the match and Vallow had to come up big on more than a few occasions. But, that is why Vallow gets paid the big bucks.
Jonny Steele - I have never been a big fan of the young kid from Northern Ireland. But, if he can score the odd goal and they continue to be at big times, then I may have to change my mind. The one thing I like about Steele is that he plays with speed. And that is more than can be said for the guy that he replaced.
Mike Ambersley - The rookie from Indiana worked his tail off last night. And while there were times where you can question his decision making (Why, oh why, did you pass the ball on a breakaway?), you can not question his work rate. The Rhinos could do a lot worse than have a team full of guys that work as hard as Amberlsey and Frankie Sanfilippo do on a nightly basis.
Danny Kramer and Aaran Lines - The Rhinos midfield has struggled to get good service to the guys playing up top and Kramer and Lines were the poster children for those struggles last evening. Kramer was getting yelled out by the fans and by Frankie Sanfilippo. Lines' best play was a botched cross to Kramer that almost went into the back of the net. Both of their nights could be summed up by how Lines' ended: getting treatment for an injured butt.
Tony Caig - How Vancouver got to be in first place with this guy as their starting keeper is beyond me. I'm guessing that he just had a bad night last night. But, it was pretty horrid. If you would have switched the two goalkeepers, the scoreline easily could have been 2-0 Whitecaps. And that's being generous.
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