In the late season push to at least get a first round playoff bye, the Rhinos had a huge weekend and secured six points in a tough two games in two nights scheduling nightmare versus Virginia Beach and Atlanta.
While the first game on Friday night wasn't the team's best display of soccer, they were able to get a clean sheet, score more than one goal, and stop their trend of three straight ties. While it took until Greg Howes' free kick in the 71st minute for the Rhinos to take the lead, the good news is that they were the ones getting the late insurance goal and not allowing a late goal to let two points slip from their grasp yet again.
The even more impressive part of the weekend was the win in Atlanta. Forget that the team had played a game 24 hours earlier. Forget that they had to be at the Rochester International Airport at 4:30am on Saturday. Forget that the team arrived at Silverbacks Stadium for the kick around six hours later. Forget that Coach Calloway went with a vastly different lineup from the night before. The team showed a ton of heart simply by not giving up after giving up a 30th minute goal and when Atlanta was awarded a PK just before halftime.
Scott Vallow stopped yet another PK, they were able to get into the locker room down only a goal, and then they poured it on in the second half and were able to escape with a 2-1 win thanks to goals from the newest Rhino in Chris Bagley and the odds on favorite for the Rhinos Rookie of the Year in Kenney Bertz.
You really couldn't ask for more from the team this past weekend.
And now they have a chance to clinch a first round bye should they be able to defeat the last place Minnesota Thunder (who are 1-7-4 on the road this season) on Saturday night.
If the Rhinos don't get three points on Saturday, then the last game of the regular season in Charleston will be a battle for second place.
Team of the Week - 20
Vallow, Bertz, and Ball named to the Team of the Week
The only surprising thing for me was that Charleston only got two players named to the team of the week despite going 2-0-1 in the their 3 games in 4 nights west coast road trip.
I was hugely impressed with the Rhinos weekend and all three players deserved the honor. But, I thought that Charleston should get at least as many players on the team of the week. Although, they did get the Player of the Week in Tim Karalexis. So, that may even things out a bit.
Don't look now, but Toronto is moving up the table
While they have been eliminated from the playoffs, the Toronto Lynx could end up tied for sixth in the USL 1st Division standings if they are able to win their last two games (at Montreal and vs Minnesota) and Seattle, Puerto Rico, and Atlanta all end up with 34 points or less.
It's a long shot, but it's amazing that a team that started out the season so poorly is still making moves up the table this late in the season.
Rhino fans should be cheering for the Lynx big time on Friday night. If Toronto can get at least a point, then the Rhinos would have a shot at jumping past Montreal for the regular season title.
Greg Lalas stands up for MLS
In an interesting piece, Greg Lalas, most famously known for being Alexei's brother, as well as a former MLS player and current color commentator on New England Revolution broadcasts, takes on topics such as whether MLS should have accepted the $1.5 million offer from Charlton Athletic for Clint Dempsey and whether MLS should be viewed as a "developmental league".
While I don't agree with everything that Lalas has to say, I do think he makes quite a few valid points. I also believe that this article will cause quite a stir and a lot of backlash from the US Soccer fandom.
More on the Real Salt Lake stadium deal
Real Salt Lake looking to a local school district for help in funding their new stadium has caused quite a stir. And if anyone is surprised by this news, then I don't know where you've been for the past decade or so.
The usual cries of corporate welfare are taking on an even more heated angle when the money that is being requested is being requested from a public school district.
The interesting thing about this request though is that the money that Real Salt Lake is requesting is tax revenue that would be generated by the project itself. So, if the stadium deal falls apart, the school district would be left with potentially less revenue long term than if they helped get the stadium built in the first place.
The one legitimate concern is what happens if the bonds are issued and Checketts bails on the stadium before the bonds are paid off?
Checketts gets fired up at someone other than a Utah politician
Apparently Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts can get fired up by more than merely business dealings. He reportedly went after Colorado Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni after what he felt was taunting of Real Salt Lake fans by the Rapids player after Colorado's 1-0 win in Salt Lake this past weekend.
The Rapids clinched their second straight Rocky Mountain Cup this past weekend and the Rapids players apparently had some fun taunting the Real Salt Lake fans about it.
Personally, I think Mr. Checketts should focus more on putting a winning team on the field than worrying about what visitors to Salt Lake do after they win in Real Salt Lake's backyard.
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