Amid temperatures in the upper 90s, the Rochester Rhinos lost a close game to Arizona United AC on the road.
This match wasn't one that a lot of fans on either side were that excited about. Arizona United SC hadn't won a league match since May 10 in Harrisburg and sat in 12th place out of 14 teams. Though Rochester was unbeatenin 7 road matches heading into Saturday's night game, Bob Lilley had one eye squarely on Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup Match. The Rhinos rested John McCarthy, Pat McMahon, Alex Dixon, Johnny Mendoza, and JC Banks.
Onua Obasi has returned to the lineup after missing out for three matches. A club official told me Obasi didn't have a reported injury but was rather getting a rest during the past week. With Obasi's return to the starting lineup, Tony Walls shifted to right back. Walls has been stellar for the Rhinos this year while playing in a number of different positions. The former Chicago fullback has started at centerback, left back, right back, and central midfield for Rochester.
To be completely honest, there wasn't much in this match. Though Arizona had 6 shots in the first half, I've shared below the two most dangerous efforts.
Luis Soffner easily saved everything that the home side managed to throw at him in a rare start for the Revolution loanee.
This Rhinos team is not a side that will pepper its opposition with shots on goal. Instead, quick wingers like Alex Dixon and Levi Houapeu will try to beat the offside line into the channel on balls over the top. You can see this trend reinforced in fact that Rochester was called offside 6 times in Saturday night's match.
The deciding play of the game was a sloppy handball committed by Rochester defender Patrick Slogic.
Slogic had to defend two players at the far post and lost his balance while back-pedaling to track the flight of the ball. In the ensuing penalty kick, Jonathan Top slotted the ball low to Soffner's right side.
In a frustrating turn of events, the shot was well within reach and skidded underneath Soffner. The Revolution goalkeeper on loan made contact on the shot but could not prevent it from slipping into the back of the net in the 75th minute for the game's only goal.
Side netting for Alex Dixon after someone else pressure, Dixon got the poke, and then the other dude played Dixon in with a drink ball towards goal. Dixon drove in and tried to shoot over Newton's left shoulder but hit his shot show outside of the post.
At the end of the match as Rochester pushed for an equalizer on the road, Tony Walls abandoned his defensive position and again played as a forward. Even with a bigger body up front, the Rhinos were unable to crack through a defense that had conceded 21 goals in 11 USL Pro games.
Arizona United SC lineup: Evan Newton; Widner Saint-Cyr, Tyler Ruthven, London Woodberry, Scott Morrison; Matt Kassel, Paolo DelPiccolo, Jonathan Top (89'), Kadeem Dacres (74'), Brandon Swartzendruber (66'), Benji Lopez (80')
Subs: Jacole Turner, Devon Grousis, Joseph Toby, Jon Okafor (74'), Bradlee Baladez (89'), Brad Stisser (66'), Charles Renken (80')
Rochester Rhinos lineup: Luis Soffner; Tony Walls, Patrick Slogic, Kyle Hoffer, Onua Obasi; Lance Rozeboom (77'), Mike Garzi (62'), Tyler Rosenlund, Levi Houapeu (62'), Minh Vu; Colin Rolfe (83')
Subs: John McCarthy, Babacar Diallo (83'), Pat McMahon, Alec Sundly (62'), Johnny Mendoza (77'), Alex Dixon (62'), JC Banks
The Rhinos' next match is on Tuesday night against D.C. United at home. Rochester hosts D.C. in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup as the Rhinos attempt to reignite their reputation as a giant-killer in America's oldest soccer competition.