On December 9, 2016 the Rochester Rhinos announced ten players returning for the 2017 USL season. Those returning players are: Midfielders Kenardo Forbes, Brandon Beresford, Michael Garzi, Ryan James, and Sofiane Tergou, defenders Wal Fall, Joe Farrell, Bradley Kamden, and goalkeepers Tomas Gomez and Dan Lynd.
After announcing stadium naming rights and a jersey manufacturer in January, the Rhinos set about filling the roster during the month February.
As of Wednesday, February 15, the team has publicly announced five signings: Stefan Defregger, Antonio Correia, Darius Madison, Rayane Boukemia, and Jordan Dover.
Defregger played two seasons in USL with the Wilmington Hammerheads, where he made 36 league appearances. The New Hampshire native scored twice against Red Bulls II in 2015 and added 4 assists in the league this past season. Defregger only started 9 games in USL in 2016, coming off the bench 13 times for a total of 828 minutes played.
The Rhinos appear have a footballing connection to the island nation of Cape Verde. Two Cape Verdean players tried out for the squad ahead of the 2015 season but only Duba signed a contract with Rochester. Last season the team uncovered Guinean winger Michel Guilavogui while he was plying his trade in the domestic league on the Cape Verde islands. For the third consecutive season, the Rochester Rhinos have recruited a player from the Atlantic archipelago with the signing of Antonio Correia, who scored 17 goals for Cape Verdean club Sporting Clube de Praia.
Darius Madison has been a player on the cusp for a few years. Madison played 3 successful collegiate seasons with the University of Virginia before he was dismissed from that team for violating internal policies. In 2014, Madison played against the Rhinos in Rochester with Reading United AC in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup and was sent off late in the match. While he has shown explosive skill for UVA, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Reading United, and Kitsap Pumas of the PDL, Madison’s past disciplinary issues cast a shadow over his potential for Rochester.
Rayane Boukemia is another former standout performer for Reading United. A number of other recent Rochester players have previously taken the field for Reading in the PDL, including Alex Dixon, Levi Houapeu, Jordan McCrary, Pat Slogic, and 2014 USL Goalkeeper and Rookie of the Year John McCarthy. Boukemia is a French-born attacking midfielder who attended Southern New Hampshire University, like 2016 rookie and fellow Frenchman Sofiane Tergou and Canadian defender Dominic Samuel.
Prior to joining the Rhinos in 2016, Samuel had earned plaudits for his play in the provincial development circuit League1 Ontario. Samuel played for Sigma FC during the summer of 2015 and recent Rochester signing Jordan Dover played for Durham United FA in L1O in 2016. Dover played four seasons for the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, the same school that both J.C. Banks and Tony Walls attended. Durham grew up in Ajax, Ontario, just three hours away from Rochester.
All five signings for the Rhinos have clear upside and while a couple players may have been framed by head coach Bob Lilley as depth acquisitions, they could easily challenge the returning Rhinos for a starting spot when the team meets Bethlehem Steel on April 1.