July 9, 2007
At the end of Saturday's edition of Kick This!, Soccer Sam was blamed for why people are no longer coming to Rhinos games like they have in the past.
While I am far from an unbiased observer, I can't help but laugh at this premise.
Sam, along with Chris Economides and a whole host of other people that are no longer with the franchise, were the people that came up with the marketing and game production formula that led to decade of success at Frontier Field.
If Sam's plan for marketing the Rhinos didn't work and it drove away more fans than it drew, then the Rhinos wouldn't be here today. PAETEC Park would never have gotten built. And the the Rhinos would never have become, arguably, the greatest soccer franchise in the United States in the late 1990s.
While there is no one reason why things haven't been the same at PAETEC Park as they were at Frontier Field, I believe that getting away from what worked marketing and game production wise is one factor.
The Rhinos decided to fix something that wasn't broken and I think that has been an issue.
Lately, Sam and some of the other members of the Rhinos staff that are holdovers from the Frontier Field days have been given the freedom to bring back some of the things that worked at Frontier. Sam doing the player introductions the past couple of games are just one visible difference in the game production that have taken place lately.
And personally, some of the changes have led to an improved atmosphere at the games. Although, with the RailHawks coming to town on Friday, I think that would have been an electric atmosphere regardless of the game production changes.
But that gets back to a core premise that Sam has for marketing the Rhinos: it all starts with the players. The Rhinos need to market their players better, get them in contact with the fans more, and get as many exciting matches as possble. Fans never go home after games like Friday night's or the Charleston game, or last season's games vs Miami FC or the New England Revolution, unhappy.
It's impossible to make every game that exciting. But the team needs to get back to the formula that worked for so many years and not try and re-invent the wheel.
US U-20s to face Uruguay next
On Wednesday night, the US will play Uruguay in the Round of 16 at this year's FIFA U-20 World Cup. The match will be played at BMO Field in Toronto and for those that don't want to make the trip, the game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Quavas Kirk of the LA Galaxy will be watching. It's cool to see someone who was left off the roster still pulling for his boys. There are a lot of players that would be sulking and almost hoping for bad things to happen in their absence.
Now if the US can start getting the fan support that other countries enjoy at the U-20s.........
Carolina-Montreal almost as exciting as Friday's game
Anthony Maher and Andres Arango were red carded in the 5th minute.
Jonny Steele and Andrew Weber both picked up cautions in the 5th minute, as well.
Joey Worthen scored twice to give Carolina a 2-0 halftime lead.
Montreal's starting goalkeeper, Matt Jordan, broke his jaw in a collision with Simon Gatti that led to the first RailHawks goal. Jordan played the remainder of the first half before giving way to Andrew Weber at halftime.
Former Rhino Charles Gbeke then scored two second half goals (both set up by former Rhino Gabe Gervais) to get Montreal a point.
Gabe Gervais was playing in his first match back with the Impact after missing 7 games due to time away for the Gold Cup and then a groin injury. Gervais left the match in the 82nd minute and may have re-injured the groin.
All this excitement makes me wish it was Carolina that was replacing Virginia Beach on the Rhinos schedule!
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.