With a showdown against a fellow undefeated team looming on Monday evening, Rhinos head coach Laurie Calloway opted to start a mostly younger lineup last evening in Portland. But, that didn't stop the Rhinos from winning their 5th straight road game to start the 2006 season as they topped the Timbers 1-0.
The most radical changes were in the midfield where all four players were changed from the Rhinos usual starting four. Rookies Neil Dombrowski (defensive mid) and Danny Kramer (outside mid) had their first starts of their pro careers. Former Portland Timber Aaran Lines started opposite Kramer on the outside and Greg Howes replaced Juninho as the attacking central midfielder.
Up top, Johnny Menyongar was the one familiar name on the lineup card amongst the attacking group of starters. First year Rhino Connally Edozien started up top with Menyongar.
There was a little juggling on defense as Nate Craft got the night off and Ricky Lewis got his second start of the season. Scott Palguta moved outside to fill in for Craft at left back leaving rookie Kenney Bertz and Frankie SanFilippo in central defense.
The Rhinos attack was a little disjointed early on. And that showed in that the Rhinos were called for being offside seven times in the first half and ten times in total. One of those offside calls cost the Rhinos a goal as Connally Edozien put a ball away. But, the assistant referee had his flag in the air and the game remained scoreless.
At the half, the Rhinos made one substitution with Matthew Delicate replacing Dombrowski. This caused some shifting of positions as Howes moved back to fill the defensive midfield spot, Menyongar moved back into the attacking midfield position, and Delicate played up top with Edozien.
Seventeen minutes into the second half, Delicate was able to score the only goal of the match. Aaran Lines and Scott Palguta combined up the left side of the field and Delicate was able to put away the cross into the box. Aaran Lines was given credit for the assist.
The Timbers had a few close calls with shots that weren't on frame. But, the Rhinos defense locked the game down after getting the lead and didn't let the three points slip from their grasp.
John Ball came on in the 81st minute for Kramer as the only other move that Coach Calloway had to make.
The Rhinos will close out their three games in six nights Northwestern road trip on Monday evening at 10pm versus the Vancouver Whitecaps. That game will pit two of the three remaining unbeaten USL 1st Division teams, along with the only two teams to have only given up 1 goal so far this season.
- You have to give a big star to the Rhinos defenders. Scott Vallow was able to get his first Pat Onstad shutout of the season (a clean sheet without having to make a save) and the play of the Rhinos defense was a big reason for that.
- Former Timber Aaran Lines wanted to make a good impression on his former club. While his game high nine fouls might not have endeared him to his former club, his solid play throughout the match had to gain some grudging respect.
- Matthew Delicate has to get a star for being the one person that was able to put away a chance in this match. Delicate's third goal of the season pulled him into a tie for the USL 1st Division goal scoring lead along with John Ball and four other players.
- I hate to do this, but I have to give a bag to Don Stevens for continuing to call Jason Perry Jonathon Perry. You can't even use the excuse that Perry is new to the team this season.
- And just because it's Portland, I have to give a bag to Allison Andrews. First, she complains about Corey Woolfolk trying to get Scot Thompson red carded (ummm, memo to Allison, Corey hasn't been a Rhino in over a season), but then she acts like people wouldn't believe her as she says that the Rhinos were all class. By her accounts of the match, you'd think that the Rhinos were Canadian or something.........
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