Last night's US Open Cup match between the Rhinos and the New England Revolution was a real roller coaster ride for everyone involved.
With a final score of New England 4 Rochester 2, the first impression would be that it was a one sided affair. But that was hardly the case.
And in the end, the two goal differential was really just a two player differential. New England had Steve Rolston and Taylor Twellman and the Rhinos only had Hamed Diallo that could match the production of the two US Internationals wearing Revolution colors last evening.
Rolston's 19th minute free kick goal was a thing of beauty and new Rhinos goalkeeper Nuno Santos had no chance at getting to the ball as it was perfectly placed in the upper corner. The Rhinos had a few free kicks in dangerous areas last night, but they didn't have a player capable of stepping up and striking the ball like Rolston can.
Taylor Twellman's goal in the 67th minute was a goalscorers goal as he posted up Chris Aloisi, turned, and fired a shot home. The one player for the Rhinos that could match Twellman was the reigning USL 1st Division Player of the Week, Hamed Diallo.
In the 76th minute, second half sub Rey Martinez whipped a beautiful cross from the left flank into the New England penalty area. The cross found the head of John Ball, who sent the ball back in front of the Revolution net. Diallo put the chance away to pull the Rhinos to within a goal. It also gave hope to fans that felt like a two goal deficit may be too much to overcome.
A few minutes later, it appeared that Diallo had leveled the match at two. However, the play was called offside despite the fact that the Rhinos protested loudly and replays on the video board appeared to show a Revolution defender on Diallo's back at the time the ball was played forward to him.
But, that apparent blown call didn't deflate the Rhinos or the player who spilt a $2000 plane ticket with the club to play in last night's match. In the 85th minute, Diallo got his brace and leveled the match at two off a feed from Menyongar. And it what could have been a matter of calls evening themselves out, some people believe Diallo was offside on that play, yet the goal was allowed to stand.
And while the Rhinos had the crowd and momentum firmly on their side, they were unable to hold on. In the 90th minute, T-Bone Bonseu was called for a foul on New England's Khano Smith. This was a tough call for the Rhinos as Bonseu made contact with the player, but his last touch on the ball was so strong, that the Rhinos gained no advantage by the contact. While the Santos was setting up his wall, Rolston saw that Josh Bolton was giving Taylor Twellman too much space in the box and took a quick restart. Twellman was able to get on the end of the cross and put a header past a perplexed Santos.
When the Revolution were given a penalty kick in the final minute of stoppage time and Rolston converted to make the final score 4-2, the fans were heading to the exits and the Rhinos were left to contemplate what happened and what could have been.
Unfortunately, that is becoming a trend versus MLS clubs for the Rhinos of late.
- Hamed Diallo was certainly worth $1000 last night. It's just too bad that the one goal wasn't allowed to stand and the Rhinos were unable to make his two goals stand up
- Steve Rolston and Taylor Twellman carried the Revs to victory last night. If it wasn't for their moments of brilliance, the Rhinos surely would have advanced last evening.
- Rey Martinez was once again a difference maker off the bench. It makes me wonder what he has to do to get a chance to start.
- Nuno Santos looked good in his Rhinos debut. While I'm sure he wasn't happy allowing four goals, he was quick off his line and made a few huge saves, such as one on a Twellman breakaway, that kept the Rhinos in the match early on.
- The refs were again at their worst in a big match for the Rhinos. The Rhinos had their chances despite the poor officiating, but many of the calls that went the Revs way were taken advantage of and the ones that went the Rhinos way weren't. After last night, it makes me wonder what the Rhinos need to do to get the type of homecooking that the Impact have enjoyed over the years.
- Josh Bolton needs to know who he's marking and do a better job on restarts. Prior to his second goal, there was another New England dead ball situation where Bolton gave Twellman too much space. Twellman got his head on that ball as well, but thankfully he was unable to score. Bolton didn't learn his lesson on that play and it helped contribute to the Rhinos loss. I want to see a Rochester native show well for the hometown team. But, Bolton has a long way to go right now.
- It was disappointing to see such a lackluster crowd for such a big game. There are a ton of people that can get the finger pointed at them for the situation, but at the end of the day, that doesn't matter. Things need to get better quickly, or the long term health of this franchise will come into question big time. And that is something that few would have expected during the glory years at Frontier.
Tough night for MLS teams
While the Revs escaped PAETEC Park, the Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy weren't that lucky last evening. Houston rested a bunch of starters, including Pat Onstad, Dwayne De Rosario, and Brian Ching and fell to the Charleston Battery 1-0 in Extra Time.
But that wasn't the biggest upset of the evening. That honor woiuld go to the USL 2nd Division's Richmond Kickers defeating the LA Galaxy 1-0.
USL teams are 2-2-1 versus MLS so far in the 3rd Round of the US Open Cup. The Colorado Rapids defeated the California Victory 3-1 last evening meaning that three MLS teams, one USL 1st Division team, and one USL 2nd Division team have advanced to the fourth round.
There are still two MLS-USL 1st Division and one MLS-USL 2nd Division matchups left in the 3rd round.
News and Notes:
- The Beckham media blitz continues with the newest member of the LA Galaxy gracing the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated and being covered in a Times magazine article.
The David Beckham hype is making the overhyping of Freddy Adu look like nothing. And the fun thing is that Beckham might actually live up to it.
Although, his new organization is taking some hits with former LA Galaxy forward Santino Quaranta saying that things with the Galaxy are a mess and GM Alexi Lalas and head coach Frank Yallop aren't on the same page.
- Marc Connolly seems to think that the Fire hiring Juan Carlos Osorio is a good move. Personally, if Blanco thinks it's good for the club, I'm going to go in the opposite direction.
- The Columbus Crew are already having issues with Crew Stadium and parking and there are rumors that they could look to build a new stadium. I wonder if this is where we will be with the Rhinos and PAETEC Park in 6 or 7 years? Well, if we aren't there already, that is.
- USWNT head coach Greg Ryan has named 18 players to his World Cup roster and Abby Wambach is on the list. 10 of the 18 players will be making their World Cup finals debut in China, so this crop of players get their first chance to make an impression on the big stage. Plus, that means that Coach Ryan will be depending on players like Wambach and captain Kristine Lilly as much as ever.
- The US U-20s play Uruguay tonight with a trip to Saturday's Quarterfinals on the line. Tune in to ESPNU at 7:45pm to catch the future of US Soccer. Well, that's if you aren't going to be at BMO Field cheering the boys on!
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.