Since we are two weeks outfrom the first game of the 2008 Rhinos season when they travel to Charelston, SC to take on the Battery, here is my guess as to what Darren Tilley's first Starting XI will look like:
Goalkeeper - Scott Vallow - I think this is one of the safer picks right now. The bigger question willbe whether Chase Harrison or Tim Melia will be backing Scott up.
Defense - Luke Kreamalmayer at right back, Alfonso Loera and David Atiba Charles at center back, and Scott Palguta at left back - I think that Kreamalmayer, Loera, and Palguta are pretty much locks to start on opening night. The big question willbe whether Palguta or Charles start at center back next to Loera and who starts at left back if it's Palguta.
Midfield - I thinkthe Rhinos will stick with the 4-3-3 that they've been listing for their two home pre-season games thusfar with Tiger Fitzpatrick in the central midfield spot flanked by John Ball to the right and Steve Guppy to the left. Fitzpatrick is the only person in the midfield that I would slot as a lock. I'm rolling the dice on Guppy since he hasn't played a lot in the pre-season, but I'm chalking that up to tryingto keep him healthy. And I think Ball will get the nod as he is back with the indoor season concluding.
Forward - Since they are scoring this pre-season and Salles is still nursing that ankle injury, I'll go with Hamed Diallo, Matthew Delicate, and Johnny Menyongar up top.
With all the changes this off season, that would still have a Starting XI that has 6 returnees on it. Although, Loera may only only count as half a returnee as he's only played in a handful of games for the Rhinos!
News & Notes:
- The Stampede's website has been updated. If you are thinking about heading out to Section 101 this season, you want to stop by here first.
- Rochester's own Jamil Walker is one of three players that the Carolina RailHawks have signed ahead of their season opener tomorrow. Defender Mauricio Segovia, who was a USL 1st Division first Team All-League selection with the Puerto Rico Islanders, and midfielder Ryan Solle who was a developmental player with the New England Revolution last season were the other two signees.
- Since Danny Earls turned the Rhinos down, I wonder if Matt Kassel would accept whatever offer the Rhinos were thinking of putting out there for Earls? I know the Rhinos wouldn't offer a Generation adidas type deal, but it might be better than nothing if only for one summer.
- I hope people don't read this and dream of the Houston Dynamo moving here , but it appears that Don Garber has picked the wrong city to use his usual threat of "Build us a stadium, or we'll move your team!". The Dynamo are now in damage control mode after a letter (Page 1 & Page 2 ) was made public.
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.