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Rochester Rhinos Host NYRB II on Sunday Afternoon

Ahead of Sunday's home opener in Rochester against NYRB II, I had a chat with the Once a Metro brain-trust, Lester Townsend and Aaron Bauer.

James Stokesberry

These two teams met on NYRB's opening day for a scoreless draw back on March 28. Since then the Rhinos have remained undefeated and now lead the Eastern Conference while the Baby Bulls are sitting a respectable seventh place. As the guys from Once a Metro told me, the Red Bulls team on Sunday may look considerably different than the one Rochester played last month.

1) What's changed since opening day?

Well, I've gotten a hair cut and shaved my beard. It's been nice, you know, feeling the breeze and all that... Oh, you meant what's changed with New York Red Bulls II.

The team has signed quite a few more players who have been contributing minutes and putting out a consistent first XI consisting of Castano, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Karl Ouimette, Sean Davis, Leo Stolz, Dan Metzger, Derrick Etienne, Manolo Sanchez, and Anatole Abang. Unlike the first match against Rochester, the club isn't using or even dressing multiple Academy players.

The club still has trouble putting things together in the final third, but they're getting close and the floodgates will open soon.

2) How has the team fared on the road?

They've played one away match at Blackbaud Stadium against the Charleston Battery and they tied, 1-1. I hate to draw any conclusions about that match because the field was terrible and both teams had players fall down at least a dozen times each.

So they've done average, I guess? They have a brutal schedule during the summer on will be on the road a lot.

3) Will the MLS side have a game on Saturday, which could mean fewer big-time loanees?

The Galaxy match being on the same day presents an interesting challenge. Players like Sean Davis and Karl Ouimette who make the 18 for senior team will probably not be playing in Rochester on Sunday. I imagine we'll see a USL and Academy-heavy roster with select MLS contract players like Leo Stolz, Shawn McLaws, Santiago Castano, and Manolo Sanchez featuring due to their long term loans. Will Anatole Abang be with the MLS team? Probably yes because Bradley Wright-Phillips doesn't have a suitable back up on the bench. That means that Chris Tsonis (who recently played in Iceland) will be starting for NYRB II.

Unfortunately, the Red Bulls do not announce the rosters or short term loanees in advance, so it'll be a big reveal for everyone (including the Rochester coaches) as to which MLS contract players will be playing for NYRB II on Sunday.

Rochester may face a more troubling side than they played a month ago in Red Bull Arena or they may see a side similarly equipped with academy players and inexperienced young players.

The Red Bulls II have only played one game on the road, and while it was a result against third placed Charleston, the conditions make the match hard to use as a measuring stick.

While the visitors may not have a full complement of first-choice players, Lester did shave in the last month.

The Rochester Rhinos open their 2015 USL home campaign on Sunday at 2:05PM from Sahlen's Stadium. As with every Rhinos' game this season, you can catch the action live and archived on the team's youtube channel.