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Rochester 1-1 Toronto FC II: Rhinos Settle for Draw on the Road in Ontario

Red-hot forward Christian Volesky put the Rhinos up in the first half, but Toronto battled back to equalize off the head of Skylar Thomas.

Christian Volesky's seventh goal of the season gave Rochester a first half lead
Christian Volesky's seventh goal of the season gave Rochester a first half lead

After Saturday's emphatic come-from-behind 3-1 win at home over FC Montreal, Rochester took a five game unbeaten run up to Ontario to face Toronto FC II.

Toronto had just achieved its first set of back-to-back wins in team history on the weekend and looked to carry on that form against the team it had beaten back on June 11.

Rochester had a shortage of available field players for Wednesday night's game and could only name six players to the bench including third-strong goalkeeper Daniel Lynd. A short bench didn't affect the players on the field, however, as the Rhinos controlled much of the opening twenty-five minutes. Despite the pressure and attacking intent, the visitors were unable to force Toronto goalkeeper Phil Di Bennardo to make many difficult saves in the early going.

The breakthrough play started, as so many positive moves do for the Rhinos, from the foot of Kenardo Forbes. The deep-lying playmaker spread the ball out wide to left wingback Bradley Kamdem. The former UNLV Rebel took the ball out of the air with a delicate touch before driving forward and playing a well-weighted pass into the path of Volesky.

Rochester's second-year forward had a goal and assist on Saturday against Montreal but showed he was still hungry for goals on this play. Volesky ran diagonally onto the ball, holding off pressure from Skylar Thomas, and hit a cute shot with the outside of his right foot to the center of the goal just out of reach of the on-rushing Di Bennardo in the 27th minute.

Volesky leads the team in goals with 7 and is one away from matching his 2015 tally. While Volesky raises eyebrows with his unique productivity against Montreal, perhaps more impressive is the variety of the goals he has scored for Rochester. Volesky can win balls in the air to score headers in the run of play or on set pieces, he shows up in the right places to tap home poachers' finishes, but he also has the wherewithal and technical ability to score cheeky goals on an 18-yard chip or a first time outside-foot goal on a tight angle.

Volesky's recent goal-scoring form caught the eye of a former Revolution/Rhinos midfielder who scored a goal himself for Puerto Rico FC of the NASL last week.

Rochester took the 1-0 lead into halftime and looked comfortable on the road but Toronto FC II came out of the break a much more organized side.

While the Rhinos were able to fashion a couple opportunities through goalmouth scrambles, TFC was more disciplined in the back and attacked with more intent in the second half.

In the 50th minute, wingback Kamdem sparked a series of half-chances with a low cross. Dos Santos was streaking through the middle and attempted to connect with the service at the top of the six-yard box, but Thomas executed a near-perfect sliding challenge. The ball appeared to sit nicely in front of Volesky. But from the ground, Thomas was able to block the shot and attempt a clearance. Sean Reilly latched onto the ball still inside the penalty area but scuffed his first-time right-footed volley and Di Bennardo finally smothered.

Ten minutes later, Reilly took a throw from the right wing deep in Toronto territory. The throw sailed over dos Santos and Thomas to bounce in front of Volesky stationed seven yards out with his back to goal. Mike Garzi came in from the far post but his attempted shot was blocked by Toronto's Mitch Taintor. Di Bennardo came off his line but Forbes was able to race in and control the ball before laying off for a cross from Kamdem. Both dos Santos and Ryan James fought to keep the ball but Toronto was able to clear through winger Raheem Edwards.

Rochester's inability to convert any of the chances generated in those two sequences came back to bite the team as Toronto grew in stature through the second half. Luca Uccello, who scored against the Rhinos last month, won a free kick in a dangerous position from a Joe Farrell foul after a period of sustained pressure by Toronto.

Edwards served up a rather weak service from the set piece just to the left of Rochester's 18-yard box but the speedy attacker got on the end of the half-clearance. As Edwards was loading up a cross from a better angle, center back Thomas made a run at the far post. Rochester's defense was caught transitioning after the cleared corner and the swift diagonal service from Edwards found Thomas ghosting in unmarked. Though Rochester goalkeeper Adam Grinwis appeared to get close to the ball as he dove to his right side, there was no stopping Thomas's powerful close range header in the 77th minute.

Rochester head coach Bob Lilley threw all of his attacking options off the bench onto the field by introducing Andre Fortune II in the center of midfield, Brandon Beresford on the right wing, and Michel Guilavogui on the left wing. Fortune saw a free kick sail just over the frame, Beresford played a couple low crosses from near the endline, and Guilavogui showed flashes of skill with the ball at his foot but neither substitution was able to change the outcome.

The Rhinos were unable to hold their lead on the road and instead were hanging on for a point at the end of 90 minutes. While dropping points from a winning position will be difficult to swallow, Rochester extended its unbeaten run since June 18 to six games.

Rochester now holds record of 8 wins, 4 losses, 6 draws and travels to face Bethlehem Steel on Sunday, July 24.