In what may have been one of the craziest games ever in Rhinos history, the team survived against the Western Mass Pioneers of the USL 2nd Division in the 2nd Round of the US Open Cup last night. The 2-1 OT win gives the Rhinos a 3rd Round home match up with the New England Revolution of the MLS on Tuesday July 10th.
Early on, it felt like this could be a game where the Rhinos badly outplay and outshoot their opponent and still come out on the short end of the scoreline. Western Mass's lone first half chance was a half chance at best and yet they converted. Defender Chris Aloisi was trying to usher the ball back to Chase Harrison, but Western Mass forward Jeff Deren got his foot on the ball and poked it into the Rhinos net.
At halftime, Coach Calloway opted not to change up the attacking portion of the lineup, but rather removed Aloisi in favor of Kevin Novak at right back and replaced defensive midfielder Josh Bolton with Kevin Burns. Calloway then had to make a third defensive substitution when Kenney Bertz broke his nose near the top of the Western Mass box when he was challenging for a ball in the air off of a set piece for the Rhinos. This time it was Jason Perry entering the match.
The Rhinos continued to pour shot after shot towards the Western Mass goal without any results. T-Bone Bonseu had a ball cleared off the line that would have evened the match at one. And the Rhinos had a variety of other great chances.
And just when it looked as if the Rhinos were never going to score, Calloway made his first offensive sub of the game in the 83rd minute when he removed left back Scott Palguta and inserted Ray Martinez into the match as a left sided player in a midfield/forward role.
The move paid almost immediate dividends as Rey's speed up the left flank caused problems for the Western Mass defense. Martinez found Aaran Lines with space, Lines played a nice ball to Matthew Delicate's feet and Delicate put the ball away to tie the match.
With the match going into overtime, the legs were getting heavy for everyone. Martinez was one of only a handful of players that had any gas left and the Rhinos used him a lot in the OT to spark attacks.
Near the end of the first OT period, Aaran Lines, who has been moved up top with Delicate dropping back into midfield to save his legs, found a loose ball near the top of the Western Mass box and was able to get a low shot inside the far post for the game winner.
It was a long night, much longer than anyone on the Rhinos had hoped to have, but in the end they got the job done. Now we have to hope they have some gas left for Friday night vs Atlanta and they play a lot better when New England comes to town in two weeks.
Head over to Tully's on Thursday night
The Rhinos Women will be working at Tully's on Jefferson Rd from 6pm until 8pm to raise money for the TOPSoccer programs in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.
And you can stay around and watch the US take on Argentina in their opening match of the Copa America tournament.
If the Rhinos are looking for some bodies on defense........
It looks as if former Rhinos left back John Wilson is going to be waived by DC United and that Tim Regan and Taylor Graham will be released by the NY Red Bulls .
With Nate Craft out with a knee injury and Kenney Bertz nursing a wrist injury and now a broken nose, perhaps the Rhinos could use an extra body on defense right about now.
Around and about
- There are no Rhinos on the USL Team of the Week. But, former Rhinos Neil Dombrowski and Richard Goddard were named to the TOTW. Also of note, new Montreal forward Alen Marcina was named the USL 1st Division Player of the Week.
- Johann Smith is out for the US with the U-20 World Cup about to open up play. Preston Zimmerman will take his spot on Thomas Rongen's roster. Big Apple Soccer.com has an article up on Gabe Ferrari and apparently interest is heating up in Canada for the tournament.
- Hugo Sanchez is taking heat in Mexico due to the US winnign the Gold Cup. It couldn't happen to a nicer squad........
- Copa America opened up last night with Peru shocking Uruguay and Bolivia and Venezuela played to a 2-2 draw. Ives Galarcep also has a nice article up on the US jumping from the Gold Cup to the Copa America.
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.