Rochester 1: 0 Charleston Battery: The Rhinos Win their Home Opener

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Rochester Rhinos defeated Charleston thanks to a first half goal from revamped JC Banks, John McCarthy and the defense held on in the second half.

Rochester's team sheet claimed the squad would line up in a 4-4-2 but the Rhinos quickly settled into a 4-3-3 . Tony Walls partnered Kyle Hoffer in front of rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy with Pat MacMahon wide right and Onua Obasi as left back. In midfield Lance "Sunshine" Rozeboom and Revolution loanee Alec Sundly partnered deep which allowed club captain Tyler Rosenlund the freedom to pop into space up the field. Freedom is a ket facet of Rochester's attack as JC Banks appeared on the right flank, the left flank, up top alone, and in the hole behind Alex Dixon. Minh Vu usually maintained his station on the left wing while Dixon alternated between the center forward and right winger roles.

After controlling most opening sequences of the game, the Rhinos made a breakthrough in the 19th minute. Alec Sundly played a square pass to Rozeboom who threaded a ball to Rosenlund, running back from the goal. "Rosey" laid the ball off to Banks who took a couple touches to set himself up for what looked like an easy goal on his near post. Charleston's back-up goalkeeper Eric Shannon didn't move, blaming his left back Quinton Grifftih for not posing any challenge for the resurgent former team MVP JC Banks.

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After JC Banks got his third goal and Rosey got his second assist of the young season, those two players nearly combined away just a couple minutes later. Sunshine Rozeboom played a long ball over the top for Rosenlund to run onto just to the left of Charleston's goal. Rosenlund cut the ball back and found Banks running up through the middle. Shannon as able to save Banks's first time shot to keep his team in the game, however.

A battle that consumed most of the first half happened down the near side, Rochester's left flank, The midfield consistently tried to find Vu on a long ball over the top and even left back Obasi, who has extensive experience as an attacker in futsal, tried to isolate young Charleston defender Jackson Farmer. The Battery's 18-year-old on loan from Vancouver stood strong and used his impressive speed to recover when Rochester timed its balls over the top. It's often hard to balance attacking intent and defensive responsibility as a fullback at any level, but Charleston's Canadian international Farmer is such a player on whom to keep an eye.

While Onua Obasi didn't look like a natural full back, because he's not, the midfield tandem of Rozeboom and Sundly were able to prevent substantive attacks through the middle to punish Rochester's left back. After the halftime break, Rochester shifted to more of a 4-4-2 as play-maker Johnny Mendoza replaced Vu in the 55th minute.

In the 60th minute Charleston Battery made a double change, bringing on former Cuban international Heviel Cordoves and 2011 MLS SuperDraft number 1 pick Omar Salgado for Marlon Ramirez and Oscar Portillo. This substitution changed the complexion of the game even though Revoltuion loanee Donnie Smith came on for a half hour when Dixon left the field.

The Battery continued to attack but Rochester fended off all challenges. The most dangerous of which came off the head of Battery captain Colin Falvey. The Irish center back directed a header from a Zach Prince corner onto frame. Goalkeeper McCarthy was out of position on the play but right back MacMahon was able to head the ball off the goal line and preserve the Rhinos' slim lead just before the final whistle.

Rochester held late on despite a second half surge from the Battery. McCarthy and the back four thoroughly deserved their second clean sheet on the trot this Rhinos' attack was unlucky not to score more. JC Banks probably wants to re-take his cut back shot from Rosenlund again, placing it low and to the corner instead of up where Shannon could save it.

Aside from that Rochester's attack has been versatile and not overly reliant on any single approach. A lot of teams at this level will play directly from the defense or midfield into the run of a forward player. Against Charleston, Rochester showed the strengths of its squad by playing a number of diagonal balls that were flagged for but didn't readily appear to be offside. Rochester's fluid 4-3-3, thanks in no small part to how effective Rozeboom and Sundly were in cleaning up the midfield, allowed Rosenlund and Banks to run free and dictate the team's attacks.

JC Banks is currently the league's second highest scorer but could easily prove his worth to this team over the course of the summer. Rosenlund, who seemed stuck between two roles the past couple seasons, is now free to wander forward and contribute greatly to Rochester's attack.

Full back Jossimar Sanchez and goalkeeper Luis Soffner both stayed on the bench but you can't fault head coach Bob Lilley for leaving them there. The team's defense earned its clean sheet in front of 6,358 fans and both players should be in the team's lineup soon.

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