The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Another season, another Rhinos playoff berth.
Another start by Scott Vallow, another Rhinos clean sheet.
By virtue of Saturday night's 1-0 Rhinos victory in Minnesota, thanks to Johnny Menyongar's goal and some stout defense, the Rhinos have clinched a playoff berth and have extended their playoff appearance streak to 12 out of 12 seasons.
Some other news on the Rhinos and some nuggets for conversation:
- Alfonso Loera received his international clearance late Friday night. The good news is that he can play for the Rhinos. The bad news was that the team had left for Minnesota without him, so he was not a part of the 18 man roster on Saturday night.
- Three weeks ago I asked if there was any doubt that Hamed Diallo was the 2007 team MVP. Well, Diallo has gone into a goalscoring slump of late and with the Rhinos getting three straight shutout with Vallow in net, could there be a debate over whether a player that was a part of only 8 regular season matches should be the team MVP? Right now, Vallow has 4 shutouts in 5 starts. Chase Harrison has 2 shutouts in 18 matches and Nuno Santos was unable to get a clean sheet in either of his two league starts. So, Vallow has twice as many shutouts in a quarter of the starts.
The debate could really heat up given how the last three regular season games versus Montreal go.
- Rhinos forward Matthew Delicate is hoping to be available on Friday against Montreal and defender Kenney Bertz is getting close to being cleared to play as well. The Rhinos could be the healthiest they've been since the opening weekend when the playoffs start in a little less than 4 weeks.
- Will the Loera and Kareem Smith signings end up being a moot point for 2007? It sure looks that way right now.
- If the Rhinos can't get a big crowd for Friday night's showdown with the Montreal Impact, the questions people are asking about the health of the franchise should only get louder. Personally, I'm hoping that the Rhinos can just keep the positive momentum going, finish the regular season strong, and have a boatload of confidence heading into the playoffs.
The other big game on Saturday night
Saturday night's epic match between the NY Red Bulls and the LA Galaxy that was broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel was one of those big events that actually delivered beyond expectations.
And with all of the Beckham hype, many thought that was impossible.
But seriously, I doubt anyone that watched that game either live (and there were over 66,000 fans on hand for an MLS match that wasn't paired with an international friendly) or on TV that felt like that match wasn't worth either the price of admission or their time in front of the boob tube.
That match had everything one could want from Beckham's dead ball mastery to Jozy Altidore's brace to Juan Pablo Angel sending the Red Bull faithfull home happy.
Heck, this match was so great that even non-soccer sports media are talking about it including SI.com's lead writer for the NFL, Peter King.
Now it will be interesting to see if the match sparks any more interest in Red Bulls matches not featuring the Galaxy and whether this game's drama either gets people off of Beckham's back or if it just raises the expectations for LA games from amazingly high to insanely high.
Whatever happens, one thing is for certain, a lot more than 66,000 people will be claiming to have been at Giants Stadium on Saturday night.
Other news & notes:
- Eddie Lewis' move to Derby County is complete according to Soccer by Ives. I wonder if the Rams are looking for the Yankee trifecta now?
- Fulham captain Brian McBride scored a goal and then appeared to suffer a severe knee injury over the weekend according to Yanks Abroad. Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez commented after the match that he expects McBride to be out for months and not weeks with the injury. However, there is nothing official that has been released by the club as of yet.
- Bill Sedgewick may be trying to become the first former Rhino to be named the club's community service award winner. Bill will be running in next month's Rochester Marathon and is using the event to raise money for Alyssa's Angels.
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.