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A Look at the Rhinos' Starting Wingers: Banks and Reidy

An examination of the backgrounds, performances, and roles of Mike Reidy and J.C. Banks.

Banks (right) with his principal competition, Gabe Latigue.
Banks (right) with his principal competition, Gabe Latigue.

Mike Reidy

Local product Mike Reidy had a number of chances to race down the outside and in behind in the first half of Rochester's match against Antigua. However, Reidy is still painfully lacking decision making prowess in the attacking third of the field. When Reidy has the space to cut inside and get a look on goal, he drives wide instead. When Reidy has teammates in the area expecting an early cross, he steps on the ball or cuts it back first. From what I've seen this season Reidy's decisions are less than 50% effective and they were much lower in last Friday's match.

I don't want to rag on Reidy too much, even though he went to Colgate and I went to Hamilton (Go Conts!), but it's frustrating to not see an improvement over the course of the season. Mike Reidy has tremendous potential but I don't think the coaching staff has done enough to actually coach the pacey winger for those situations.

Reidy was a huge player for Colgate and during the summer formed part of the core of nearby NPSL side FC Buffalo. While at Colgate, Reidy was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2009 and with 7 goals in his senior year was selected as the league's Offensive Player of the Year in 2012. Western NY soccer writer Ben Tsujimoto has more details of Reidy's importance to FC Buffalo, some of which can be found here.

That said; I was still a little bit shocked when a few MLS Mock Drafts had Reidy getting picked up in the last round. Sporting KC selected Reidy as a supplemental draft pick but released him after failing to earn a contract during pre-season. The kid has potential and the Rhinos aren't the only club to notice it. However, very much needs to complete his game in order to realize that potential and contribute for this soccer club.

J.C. Banks

On the other side of the field is a player who has proven to be crucial for this organization in recent years. J.C. Banks started playing for the Rhinos in 2011 as a shy wide midfielder after an amazing collegiate career for University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Banks was selected by Toronto FC as the 8th overall pick in the 2011 Supplemental Draft but opted to test the seas in northern Europe. His trial at Swedish club BK Hacken was notable for the reception he got from local writers and fans. Despite not earning a contract, Banks showcased impressive skills and fans referred to him as "the Youtube Guy" after a college highlight video made its rounds.

Since coming to the Rhinos, Banks has been explosive. He was named 2011 Team Rookie of the Year and then 2012 Team MVP. Also in 2012, Banks was named to USL-Pro First Team All-League alongside Troy Roberts and Kristian Nicht.

During his first year, Banks was most effective receiving a ball in the channel and cutting in towards goal on a diagonal. While not the fastest player, Banks has an arsenal of tricks and the presence of mind to take on multiple defenders at once with the ball at his foot. Last season he began to grow his goal tally while leading the team in points with 5 goals and 8 assists. The team had a knack of winning games whenever Banks got on the score-sheet with either a goal or an assist so it's not hard to see that his performances shaped results for the Rhinos.

Banks suffered a knee injury during a home win against Pittsburgh in late July last season but then-coach Jesse Myers selected Banks for further matches despite the tweaked knee and the team's most important offensive player tore his ACL shortly thereafter. The injury dashed plans for offseason training with MLS teams and Banks missed the team's short 2013 preseason while rehabbing his knee.

Moving Forward in 2013

2012's Team MVP is now approaching full match fitness just after halfway through the season. Banks' importance to the spirit of the team and the hope that he will regain the fire from 2012 means he will always start for the Rhinos. Gabe Latigue is a very similar player to Banks in what I've seen from the two of them. While both players would benefit from playing in a more sustained possession based system, that style does not suit the mentality of the team.

Mike Reidy offers the link to the local community as a native of Rochester suburb Webster, NY. Reidy also provides a tireless option for hopeful long balls down the field. His speed fits the traditional American lower division style of kick-and-run but his touches and finishing leave a lot to be desired. Despite his shortcomings, head coach Pat Ercoli likes Reidy and will probably select him over Latigue for the coming games.