Bob Lilley and the Rhinos's coaching staff have only had 6 players from last year's squad in preseason training camp so far. With goalkeeper John McCarthy's departure to Philadelphia, J.C. Banks testing out the NASL with Minnesota United, and Tyler Rosenlund moving home to British Columbia to captain the Vancouver Whitecaps II, the team needs to add at least a dozen players before its season kicks off on March 28. Here's a look at some of the players currently in camp.
Vassilis Apostopoulos - Central defender
Vassilis, as he's called in camp, came through the youth ranks at Atromitos F.C. in his hometown of Athens, Greece. He moved in 2011 to Hungary with first division club Videoton but failed to make a first team appearance. Instead he played on loan at the club's reserve team, named after Ferenc Puskás. His contract with Videoton expired in July 2014.
Nikola Paunic - Central defender
Serbian-Montenegrin-born former Canadian youth international defender Nikola Paunic has joined Rochester's training camp after participating in the MLS Combine in January. Paunic played two solid years at University of South Florida after transferring from the University of Toronto. He had also captained the Toronto FC academy side and played for the Serbian White Eagles of the Canadian Soccer League previously.
Laurent Lanteri - Winger
Scoring the team's only goal against Ottawa certainly helps make the case for Lanteri, a French winger who most recently played in the lower divisions of Italian soccer. His latest contract, with Novara Calcio ended last year and he looked outside of Italy and France for his next opportunity. He wasn't among the first round of players in camp but has made an impact in preseason games so far.
Sean Murdoch - Goalkeeper
Murdoch is a 28-year-old goalkeeper from Edinburgh, Scotland. Murdoch made an appearance in the UEFA Cup, the fore-bearer of the Europa League, for Dunfermline Athletic but really shone with fellow Scottish club Hamilton Academical and English side Accrington Stanley. After acting as back-up at Edinburgh mainstay Hibernian for two seasons, he had originally trained as a youth at fierce rivals Hearts, Murdoch has been out of contract since the summer of 2014. While he was training with New York City FC this past December Murdoch proposed to his girlfriend with the help of a flash mob in Times Square.
Kenardo Forbes - Winger
The 26-year-old Jamaican has played professionally in his native country for Waterhouse F.C. and in the United States for the indoor team Syracuse Silver Knights. Forbes has played 4 seasons for Syracuse under former Rochester Rhinos star Tommy Tanner and improved each year. The speedy attacker also made 3 appearances for the Jamaican national team back in 2010 and can offer something special to the Rhinos if he signs.
Aurelien Norest - Full back
The French defender had previously been training with USL side OKC Energy FC last month but made his way north to Rochester in hopes of fulfilling the professional soccer dream. Born in the northwest suburbs of Paris, Norest played four years at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. The 22-year-old has been playing as a right back for the Rhinos.
Grant van de Casteele - Central defender
The 6'2" defender was drafted by Colorado in 2014 and signed with the team last January. After just one 29 minute appearance in the league last season, the Rapids didn't pick up van de Casteele's option in November. Oddly, the team negotiated a new contract with the Texas-born centerback on February 27 before waiving him a week later on March 6. Regardless of those potential contract hi-jinks, the defender has brought his Texas swagger to Sahlen's Stadium and made his presence known in the preseason game against Cornell.
Sadly for the New England Revolution community, one player no longer with the Rhinos is attacking midfielder Fabio Machado. Bob Lilley still had praise for the young attacker despite not keeping him in camp. "Machado would fade in and out. He's a good player but he would be absent for long stretches, even in training. He has flashes of brilliance but wasn't consistent enough and didn't get back to defend. He has skills but we decided to go with other options."