Rochester was in fifth place on August 9 and now stands in seventh after three consecutive losses.
Lineup vs Charleston:
John McCarthy; Pat McMahon (56'), Babacar Diallo, Kyle Hoffer, Onua Obasi; Tony Walls, Alec Sundly (73'), Tyler Rosenlund, Johnny Mendoza (63'); JC Banks, Alex Dixon (63')
Subs: Luis Soffner, Pat Slogic, Mike Garzi (56'), Lance Rozeboom (73'), Minh Vu (63'), Levi Houapeu (63'), Colin Rolfe
The Rhinos traveled down to Charleston, South Carolina, for a match on Friday night before heading over to Charlotte for Saturday's match.
After a fairly even 25 minutes to open the match in Charleston, referee Cedric Adams made an incorrect call to set up Charleston's first goal. Kyle Hoffer stepped up to pressure forward Dane Kelly as he received a pass down the Battery's left wing. Kelly flopped over as his left foot knocked the ball out of bounds. Adams had two choices, to either call Hoffer for a foul (on which there wasn't much contact) or whistle for a Rochester throw. Instead, he gave Charleston a phantom throw-in and the home side scored.
Prince threw long into the box towards Jarad van Schaik who headed the ball to Jose Cuevas. Cuevas's shot was saved well by McCarthy down to his right but van Schaik was able to pick up the rebound. Kept onside by Hoffer, van Schaik found Maikel Chang open at the far post. Chang shot low and McCarthy appeared to clear the ball off the line. The referee judged that the ball crossed the line before McCarthy got a touch and Charleston took the lead in the 26th minute.
In the 39th minute Dane Kelly slipped in between Onua Obasi and Babacar Diallo down the right wing for Charleston. The speedy Jamaican forward then cut inside up the endline and lost Diallo but McCarthy sprung off his line to knock the ball away. As Hoffer cleared the momentarily loose ball, Cedric Adams whistled for a penalty in the Battery's favor. Adams decided that Diallo made contact with Kelly who then took two strides and lost control of the ball.
John McCarthy was absolutely furious with the decision but the referee pointed to the spot and Cuevas stepped up to take the penalty. Before the shot, however, captain Tyler Rosenlund received a yellow card for apparent dissent towards Mr. Adams. Cuevas did eventually bury the penalty high to his left side and McCarthy conceded multiple goals for just the third time this season.
The Battery had created more and better chances than Rochester in the first half but the referee was involved in both goals for the home side.
As usual, the Rhinos were more attacking in the second half but couldn't find a breakthrough until the dying minutes of the game. In the 85th minute, Tony Walls took a heavy shot from 30+ yards out that forced Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper in a fantastic save. On the ensuing short corner Vu played a one-two with Rosenlund before delivering a narrow cross. Walls beat Shawn Ferguson for a header in area and nodded on to JC Banks who hit a clever bicycle kick to score at the far post.
Banks's goal gave the Rhinos some hope but poor precision going forward meant Rochester dropped the game at Blackbaud Stadium 2-1.
Lineup vs Charlotte:
Luis Soffner; Jossimar Sanchez (57'), Patrick Slogic, Kyle Hoffer (76'), Tony Walls; Mike Garzi, Lance Rozeboom, Levi Houapeu (73'), Minh Vu; Sam Petrone (57'), Colin Rolfe (34')
Subs: John McCarthy, Onua Obasi (76'), Pat McMahon, Alec Sundly (34'), Johnny Mendoza (57'), Alex Dixon (73'), JC Banks (57')
Because of the back-to-back matches in this road trip, Rhinos head coach Bob Lilley had to shake up the starting lineup against Charlotte. Luis Soffner replaced McCarthy in net and Jossimar Sanchez made just his 5th appearance for Rochester. Walls slid into the left back position as Sunshine Rozeboom started in central midfield with Mike Garzi in a 4-2-3-1. Colin Rolfe started as the team's lone forward but left the game injured in the first half.
In the 30th minute of the match, Pat Slogic was called for his second handball in the area of the season; the first was in Arizona and Soffner was in goal that game as well. Former Revolution/Rhinos fullback Bilal Duckett beat Hoffer in the air off a long throw and his header hit Slogic's arm. Jorge Herrera stepped up for the Eagles and finished high to his right as Soffner dove low to the other side.
Rolfe couldn't recover from a twisted ankle and made way for Sundly in the 34th minute. Sundly played in the center of Rochester's 3 attacking midfielders and the Rhinos showed some strong passing sequences with the Revolution loanee in an advanced position.
Sanchez's appearance lasted only 57 minutes as he made way for attacking options in the 57th minute. Central midfielder Garzi took over the right back position as Mendoza and Banks added pace and flair to Rochester's attack. The introduction of Onua Obasi pushed Walls inside to partner Slogic in central defense.
As Ben Newnam pushed forward in the 81st minute just to the right of the center of the field his body looked poised to hit a ball over the top to the far post but disguised his pass into the path of Zak Boggs at the near. Poor positioning from Slogic kept Boggs onside as he ghosted into the area in-between Walls and Garzi. The former Revolution forward allowed the ball to run across his body before sticking out his left foot to direct his shot past Soffner for 2-0.
With less than 7 minutes to play and down two goals, Mendoza hit a free kick from about 40 yards out. Charlotte goalkeeper Alec Kann came off his line to punch the ball out but couldn't get through a mass of bodies. 6-foot 4-inch Obasi was able to nod his header into an empty net in the 84th minute to pull one back for Rochester.
Once the Rhinos came to life in the final minutes of the game (perhaps that's a theme developing), the match opened up. Despite the alterations Lilley made to his starting lineup, Rochester's players couldn't hang with Charlotte in a back and forth match. The Rhinos had been chasing this game as they had done the night before in Charleston and the tired legs were not able to keep up the pace.
Charlotte added an 89th minute goal to cap a thoroughly deflating weekend for Rochester. Boggs was again kept onside by Slogic as Drew Yates played him through and Boggs drew Soffner out to the side before scoring through the keeper's legs.
Teams aren't always expected to win road games, especially in back-to-back sequences, but 0 points this weekend hurts Rochester's playoff chances. Just two weeks ago the team was sitting pretty in a relatively safe playoff position with some winnable games in front of them. Today the team is in 7th place with matches against Harrisburg, at Harrisburg, and against Wilmington. The Rhinos won't find successful if they try to coast into the postseason.