Rhinos Settle for a Draw at Home against Charleston

USA TODAY Sports

Rochester's success against VSI Tampa Bay would not carry over from Friday to Sunday's match with visiting Charleston Battery

The early going in this match was characterized by Charleston's full court press, to borrow a term from another sport. Battery midfielders and forwards applied strong pressure to Rochester whenever the Rhinos were on the ball. This forced quite a few sloppy mistakes from the Rhinos and meant that players didn't have time to settle into a possession game.

After overcoming an initial period of futility, by the 18th minute Rochester was able to string passes together in attacking sequences. However, the final pass was missing every time the team entered the attacking third. To try to directly pull the strings, JC Banks drifted centrally as more of an attacking playmaker rather than stay outside on the wings.

In the 21st minute, Banks took a long throw deep in Charleston territory. The ball into the area was controlled by Rochester but a shot in the box was blocked by the Battery. Earls picked up the loose ball outside the 18-yard box and chipped in a diagonal ball for an on-racing Banks, but the pass skidded off the turf out of play.

Minutes later Brettschneider won a footrace with a Charleston defender to the ball. He dropped it off to Banks who faked inside and cut to the endline before his cross was blocked out for a corner. Earls took the ensuring corner kick and Lance "Sunshine" Rozeboom flicked the ball in at the near post in the 28th minute. Battery back-up keeper Kevin Klasila couldn't do anything to block the angled shot from close range as the Rhinos took a first half lead at home for the second time in three days.

A clever ball flicked over the defense for Brettschneider to run onto in the 39th minute showed a continued inventiveness from the Rhinos while a number of corners to end the first half proved a sustained attacking pressure by Rochester.

The Rhinos came out from halftime the more sluggish team yet again, but unlike Friday night the Battery were able to punish them for it.

Early in the second half, Charleston took a free kick from about 30 yards out. Roberts cleared the initial ball out to the side but the Rhinos did not put hard pressure on the Charleston player who played in a dangerous cross. The cross found a teammate at the far post who headed the ball back across the face of goal and [some dude] was standing unmarked inside the 6 yard box to side volley home for the equalizer. Nicht was statuesque in goal on the shot from an arm's length away but was quickly animate to give his defense an earful.

Cuban forward Eviel Cordoves followed up Charleston's goal with a heavy strike of his own. Cordoves received the ball 25 yards out, took a touch inside on his left foot, and unleashed a hard knuckling shot to the bottom far post from outside the area. Nicht does well to get down to make the save and then less than politely urges his teammates to wake up.

Tam McManus and Mike Reidy entered the match in the 57th minute for Ross LaBauex and Gabe Latigue as the team switched to a more traditional 4-4-2. Dangerous attacking midfielder/forward Jose Cuevas replaced Cordoves, who had taken a knock. Midfielder Nicki Patterson, who has trained extensively with the New York Red Bulls, entered the match soon after.

In the 60th minute, Banks easily jukes his defender down the right side, takes the endline, and turns the corner. He cut a low cross back to the penalty spot. Unfortunately for the team and despite Banks's hard work, no one from Rochester was in the right place to bury home the promising cross.

Head coach Pat Ercoli decided to take JC Banks out in the 65th minute even though the winger didn't appear to be carrying any injury. Recently signed forward Andrew Hoxie replaced Banks but the team proceeded to struggle with getting the ball to their strikers. Ercoli took both of the team's natural wide players off the field with 25 minutes left in regulation so the team could only try to play the ball through the middle of the field.

Charleston had their best chance to take the lead in the 81st minte. Van Schaik won the ball in midfield and ran down the left side on a piercing counter attack. His centering pass found Alderson in the area but Alderson's shot was too close to Nicht who did well to parry the ball. With five minutes left in regulation, Cuevas and Patterson connected in the box but Nicht came up with another big save off the one-time shot.

As much as the Rhinos' players pushed up on the attack, the Battery created better chances in the last 10 minutes of the game. All of Rochester's play going forward was one-dimensional, predictable, and easily defended by Charleston. The removal of JC Banks coupled with the introduction of two special players for the Battery, Cuevas and Patterson, allowed Charleston to control much of the run-in and establish more dangerous passing sequences.

Even though the Rhinos were dominant to end the first half, they were lucky to be level at the end of 90 minutes. While the team is 1-0-2 in their last three matches, Rochester still needs to improve at home to have any chance of making the postseason. The team has made the playoffs in each of its previous 17 seasons.

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