The Rhinos came into Saturday night's match on the back of a 13-day rest period. After the team's narrow win over FC Montreal on May 30, 2015, head coach Bob Lilley gave his players a vacation as a reward for staying undefeated.
Rochester put that unbeaten record (7-0-4) to the test against fourth placed Louisville City FC. Louisville has only lost one game, a 1-0 scrap at Charlotte Independence, so far this USL season. The expansion side boasted the highest goal differential ahead of the game, holding an impressive +12.
The opening 10 minutes of the game were fairly even but the Rhinos squandered two half-chances early as both Christian Volesky and Duba both missed shots wide of the near post. Very quickly the contest descended into physical chaos and the match official, Jaroslav Werel, appeared oblivious.
While halftime stats showed just 8 fouls for Louisville and 6 for Rochester, the run of play was constantly interrupted by chippy fouls, late challenges, and off the ball shenanigans. Tony Walls was shown a yellow card in the 24th minute for one of several fouls on 18-year old Chicago Fire midfielder on loan with Louisville Collin Fernandez.
As the match seemed to be reaching a fever pitch, and the referee failed to act to settle down the players on both sides, Rochester took a lead through a piece of magic. From a position on the left wing, Kenardo Forbes played a simple pass into the channel for Obasi on the overlap. As Obasi neared the endline, he played a low cross towards the near post.
Louisville's centerback Austen King was able to get a foot on the ball and break up the play but his partial clearance fell to Forbes, who had drifted into the 18-yard box. Forbes saw the ball falling to him and wound up a right-footed full volley from one step inside the area. His spectacular drive nearly ripped a whole in the back of the net at the far post and gave the Rhinos the lead in the 43rd minute.
Check out the Forbes volley to give @RochesterRhinos the 1-0 halftime lead vs. @loucityfc! #ROCvLOU pic.twitter.com/SV5cLY0j0n— USL (@USL) June 14, 2015
The second half started in much the same physical manner that the first had ended. Also carrying on from the first half was Kenardo Forbes' great form. In addition to his highlight reel goal, the Jamaican winger could have had a handful of assists if his teammates and the officiating crew were up to the task.
In the 50th minute, Forbes played a ball into the path of Duba who was taken down in the penalty area but the referee waved off Rochester's appeals. Just a minute later, Forbes sent a fine low ball from half field through the Louisville defense for Christian Volesky. Volesky did well to round Scott Goodwin but ultimately shot wide into the outside netting.
Duba had a wonderful chance to score in the 56th minute when he picked off an awful attempted backpass from Louisville midfielder Aodhan Quinn. Quinn received the ball from his goalkeeper and tried to play a square pass to one of his central defenders. Duba pounced on the weak pass but instead of carrying the ball forward, decided to shoot from 25 yards out. Goodwin scampered back into his goal to make the save on Duba's low central shot.
After this flurry of chances for Rochester, the match settled for ten minutes before the Rhinos fashioned the insurance goal. While besieging the Louisville penalty area, Mike Garzi attempted to dance his way past defender Sean Reynolds but the fullback stuck a foot in and knocked the ball away. Reynolds appeared to injure himself in the challenge as Tony Walls picked the ball up outside the box.
Walls saw that Reynolds was lying on the turf and drove forward through Louisville's right side. The captain hit the ball with a clever outside of the right foot pass around Austen King to find Christian Volesky. Volesky's weak shot from close range was saved by Scott Goodwin but the rebound fell to Duba.
From six yards with the goalkeeper out of position, Duba buried his shot to double the home side's advantage: 2-0 Rochester in the 68th minute.
After the second goal, Bob Lilley gave Walls a rest in just the second time he's been subbed off all season in all competitions. Winger/forward Alex Dixon came off the bench for 18 minutes to replace Volesky for his first involvement since May 2.
In the final stretch of the match, Brandon Miller picked a number of crosses out of the air and did well to pressure Louisville forwards into making mistakes. After the game Bob Lilley spoke with pride about his goalkeeper's performance.
"Brandon had his best game of the season," Lilley told media. Two saves in particular stood out to Lilley as crucial to keeping his fifth clean sheet of the season. In the 25th minute Miller dove to his left to snatch a goal-bound header from Sidney Rivera from a Juan Guzman free kick. The ball was actually behind Miller's head when the goalkeeper caught it.
In the 42nd minute Marcos Ugarte gave the ball away in Rochester's defensive end to Matt Fondy who played Collin Fernandez into the box. The youngster hit a hard shot to the far post but Miller sprawled out to his left to push the ball around the post. Miller's save on Fernandez came just a minute before the eventual game-winning strike from Forbes.
The still undefeated Rhinos are sitting on top of the USL standings and hold the second longest unbeaten run in franchise history behind only a 14-game stretch in the 1998 season. Rochester next plays in U.S. Open Cup action on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Union.