This year the team convenes for camp on March 3, a full 13 days earlier than last year's sluggish preseason. 2013 preparations under then head coach Jesse Myers consisted of just four matches, all at home and three against local college teams: Canisius College (Buffalo), Syracuse University, and Cornell University.
All of 2013's preseason's matches were at Sahlen's Stadium and the Revolution loanees had joined the Rhinos before the match against Syracuse on March 29th of last year, when I first had a chance to see Gabe Latigue and company don the Black and White. The Revolution announced the four loan deals on March 27, three matches into its 2013 MLS campaign.
During this preseason the team will play 7 matches, 3 home matches against collegiate sides (Syracuse on the 7th, Binghamton on the 9th, and Niagara and the 14th) before travelling to Pittsburgh Riverhounds' Highmark Stadium on March 16. After that match-up against a USL-Pro rival, Rochester will host expansion NASL side Ottawa Fury FC on March 21st, Cornell University on March 23rd, and former rival Montreal Impact on March 29th.
As of the release of this pre-season schedule last Thursday afternoon, the club only had 8 players publicly under contract: returning midfielders Tyler Rosenlund, Lance Rozeboom, and JC Banks, along with recently signed Kyle Hoffer, Ayao Sossou, Onua Thomas Obasi, Samuel Petrone. Forward Matt Luzunaris has been a constant beacon of hope and an inspiration for any athlete recovering from injury. Signing with Rochester after a successful season with Orlando City, Luzunaris suffered a horrifying leg break in the Rhinos home opener against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
On Monday, young goalkeeper John McCarthy announced via social media that he had signed with the Rhinos. As of Tuesday afternoon, there has been no word from the team about this player.
McCarthy attended LaSalle University, where he set records for games played (74), saves (468), and shutouts (28). He also played for Ocean City Nor'easters and Reading United in the PDL during the summers which helped make him one of the top goalkeepers in this year's MLS draft. The young goalkeeper was training at Seattle Sounders but decided to sign his first professional contract with Rochester. You can read a great profile of McCarthy on Sounder at Heart here.
As Rochester approaches preseason training camp, there are still more holes than answers in the roster. After the worst season in club history in 2013, a roster overhaul was in order and new head coach Bob Lilley has started mostly from scratch. Losing Alex Horwath to Lungskile SK in Sweden and Pierre-Rudolph Mayard to Ottawa Fury FC in NASL, both of whom were expected to play the 2014 campaign in Rochester, is a bit of a set-back with the season right around the corner.
Lilley and the Rhinos faithful may have to wait until the end of March again before knowing which players will join the USL-Pro side on loan from the Revolution.