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Recently Signed Midfielder Nate Bourdeau Brings Depth to Playoff Run

Bourdeau signed with the team ahead of the roster freeze deadline and has shown both defensive and offensive contributions in the final games of the regular season.

Bourdeau was all smiles when he signed with Rochester in late August
Bourdeau was all smiles when he signed with Rochester in late August

The Central NY native signed with the Rhinos as cover for the first team but filled in brilliantly down the stretch. Though the Rhinos had already secured the regular season title, their opponents were battling for playoff seeding which means the final matches had some bite.

The team announced his addition to the squad on August 28 and the midfielder hit the ground running. Bourdeau joined the team after Christian Silva suffered a serious knee injury in a May U.S. Open Cup game and Revolution loanee Tyler Rudy's season ended to a foot/ankle injury.

Bourdeau slotted in well against Pittsburgh, New York, and Toronto. He was particularly solid as a ball-winner in the high-intensity game against the Red Bulls but showcased his offensive potential by setting up a goal at Highmark Stadium against the Riverhounds.

The recent Rhinos signing is a graduate Charles W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville, N.Y. Bourdeau spent his freshman year at Boston College before transferring to Rutgers. At Rutgers, he earned Third-Team All Big East honors in his senior season.

During the summer of 2012, Bourdeau played in the Premier Development League with Ocean City Nor'easters. He won the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Division where he was teammates with Rochester's 2014 stand-out goalkeeper John McCarthy.

Several other recent Rhinos have also played with that PDL team including: Jamie Franks, Ryan Heins, Tony Donatelli, and Tyler Bellamy. Revolution winger on-loan Timi Mulgrew also played for that club in 2013. Current Rochester left back Onua Obasi was recruited to play for Ocean City as a forward ahead of the 2012 season but ended up settling in with the team now known as AC Connecticut.

While he didn't share the field with any current Rhinos players in PDL, Bourdeau has spent three indoor seasons alongside 2015 Rochester Offensive Player of the Year Kenardo Forbes. The former Jamaican national team winger has played three winters in Syracuse, New York, playing with local product Bourdeau for the Silver Knights.

After the Toronto game Bourdeau gave me a glimpse into his introduction to the Rhinos. "Honestly, I guess I've tried out for plenty of teams but I couldn't imagine coming into a better team and a better group of guys or a better coach in coach Lilley. They've all been absolutely amazing to welcome me."

I asked Bourdeau to talk about how he quickly moved into the squad after signing. With humility the midfielder said, "I've done some things that coach has liked so he's given me a chance to play. Every time I've gone out there I try to do my best and prove that coach Lilley made the right decision."

Bourdeau spoke about growing up close to the Rhinos and the outpouring of support from his personal network. "I'm from Syracuse N.Y. and played for the Silver Knights pro indoor team. I've grown up in Syracuse my whole life so it's awesome, it's a dream come true to play for the Rhinos just an hour/hour and fifteen away."

"My dad made the trip to my first start last weekend against the Red Bulls and my family comes to every game, they'll be at all the playoff games. Hopefully we'll go all the way," Bourdeau smiled. "My family is very supportive and lots of friends and even my high school coach came tonight. I was just talking to him a little bit ago. A lot of people from my area are supportive and I couldn't ask for anything more."

In his debut off the bench against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Bourdeau had an inch-perfect first-time assist to forward Christian Volesky for the team's equalizer on the road. It was pretty.

After the game against the Red Bulls, I talked to head coach Bob Lilley. "I thought he did well the other night [against Pittsburgh]. I thought he was up for the battle tonight, to ask him to play 70 minutes at a playoff intensity-level - which is what New York brought tonight - I'm very impressed he dealt with it. It was not an easy game."

While Bourdeau may not be the first name on the team sheet with players returning from injury and suspension, he has the talent and versatility to contribute on both sides of the ball during the team's playoff run.

The Rhinos host New York Red Bulls II at 7:05PM on Saturday.