Maybe the Rhinos should play games with jet lag more often. After enduring a cross-county flight, Rochester's players were quick enough to pounce on small openings in LA's defense and capitalize on their chances. Despite the coast-to-coast journey and playing against the second placed team, the Rhinos scored multiple goals for only the third time this USL Pro season.
In just the 9th minute, Rochester took advantage of some sloppy defending from the Galaxy. Alex Dixon drove into the 18-yard box and curled a pass through the legs of LA defender Bradley Diallo and into the path of Johnny Mendoza. Similar to the goal he scored against Reading United AC, also on service from Dixon, Mendoza was at the right place to tap home the goal unmarked from close range.
This goal was Mendoza's first in USL Pro this season and complements well the assist he had against Chicago Fire Reserves back in April.
As LA Galaxy II attacked in search of an equalizer, the home team was vulnerable in the back. A sloppy giveaway from Diallo gifted Dixon the ball just inside the Galaxy penalty area. Dixon did well to shake his defenders and approach the goal from the left side. Galaxy goalkeeper Cody Laurendi rushed off his line to close down the shooting angle but Dixon calmly slotted his shot into the far post to double Rochester's lead in the 29th minute.
Rochester had only scored multiple goals in two previous matches this season: a 2-0 win at Chicago Fire Reserves and a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh Riverhounds. As it turns out, the two goals was all the offense the Rhinos needed.
The Rhinos managed to defend well and also venture forward a few times in the second half. After the hour mark, however, LA Galaxy II coach Curt Onalfo had his team turn up its intensity. In the 71st minute it appeared that LA had scored on a rebound. Chandler Hoffman took a low shot inside the area after Jamieson IV cut in from the left channel. McCarthy got down well to his right side to make the save but Charlie Rugg was on hand to blast home the second attempt. Unfortunately for the home side, the assistant referee had his flag raised as Rugg was in an offside position on Hoffman's initial shot.
That play gave the Galaxy II some belief and the team had its breakdown just 3 minutes later. Rochester's Babacar Diallo was whistled for either a foul on Hoffman or a handball in winning the ball, either way Los Dos had a free kick inches outside the 18-yard box. Galaxy II captain Rafael Garcia stepped up to take the free kick and did well to get his shot over the wall and under the cross bar from such a close range.
McCarthy won't want to watch this shot again as the rookie goalkeeper probably should have done more to stop the effort to his near post.
Garcia's goal set up a frenetic final 15 minutes that saw the visitors play with 5 in the back, Slogic as an anchorman and Sundly and Rozeboom as ball-winners. Rochester defenders were throwing their bodies into harm's way to block any shot that opened up for the Galaxy II. Los Dos had a number of chances but couldn't put their shots on frame; McBean was especially guilty of slicing his shots wide. The Galaxy II amassed 22 shots in this game but only forced McCarthy into 2 saves the whole game.
Even if the match was a nail-biter at the end, Rochester walked out of StubHub Center with three points. This was LA's second loss at home this season only third loss all year. The win (at least momentarily) propelled the Rhinos into fourth place in the USL Pro standings.
Rochester next plays on Saturday in Arizona and hopefully Bob Lilley's men can carry over the momentum from defeating the league's shiny new franchise for that match. After that league game, the Rhinos come home and prepare to host D.C. United in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night.
Next up: Rochester Rhinos at Arizona United SC; Saturday, June 14, 10:00PM EST.
Rochester: John McCarthy; Pat McMahon, Babacar Diallo, Kyle Hoffer, Tony Walls; Alec Sundly, Johnny Mendoza (85'), Mike Garzi (89'), Minh Vu (71'); Alex Dixon (61'), JC Banks (45')
Bench: Luis Soffner, Pat Slogic (89'), Onua Obasi (71'), Tyler Rosenlund (61'), Lance Rozeboom (85'), Levi Houapeu, Colin Rolfe (45')
Los Angeles: Cody Laurendi; Oscar Sorto (66'), Bradley Diallo (82'), Tommy Meyer, Logan Emory; Raul Mendiola, Kenney Walker, Rafael Garcia, Bradford Jamieson IV (86'), Jack McBean (65'), Chandler Hoffman
Bench: Nicholas Shackleford, Charlie Rugg (65'), Travis Bowen (82') , Aleksandar Djokovic (86'), Dragan Stojkov, Andre Auras (66'), Kyle Venter