The Rochester Rhinos [8-0-5] hosted the Pittsburgh Riverhounds [5-4-4] in a game that featured more water than goals on Saturday night. The evening’s offensive struggle marked the fifth straight game where the Hounds scored one goal or fewer and they lost, 1-0.
The first half featured no goals, as teams were struggling more with the layer of water on the field more so than their opponents. With players sliding and splashing along the way, fans could see the difficulty in both goalies trying to keep up with the ball.
Early in the match, the Rhinos were able to shrug off the precipitation and find multiple scoring chances. In just the first two minutes, defensemen Johnny Mendoza was set up perfectly for a chance to score, but missed just wide of the net.
The Riverhounds wouldn’t really give keeper Brandon Miller any action until the 30th minute when midfielder Stephen Okai volleyed the ball and would end up being awarded a corner kick.
Minutes later, in the 35th, midfielder Rob Vincent was given an opportunity that was passed on to midfielder Kevin Kerr who crossed the ball just out of reach of other Riverhounds players.
Again, just moments later in the 42nd Okai once again influenced another Hounds drive down the field as he and Kerr were able to work together and send the ball to the net, but with no luck, as Rochester’s Miller was able to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net.
The first half would end in a 0-0 draw as both teams struggled in generating any consistent offense on the water soaked field.
The second half of the game would prove to show more offense and give one of the teams the eventual lead and win.
After a number of substitutions, the Riverhounds seemed to have a little more pep in their step. Players were able to catch Miller off guard, like Vincent, who launched a 50 yard ball to the net.
Others like forward Miro Cabrilo, who was subbed for Drew Russell, were able to get pressure on the Rhinos goalie, only coming up with wide shots and missed opportunities.
Unfortunately, the Rhinos would seize one of their few opportunities in the second half when in the 78th minute, a penalty kick by Tony Walls was shot to the top right of the net, just out of the reach of Hounds’ goalie, Calle Brown.
This lone goal would be the only goal needed as the Rhinos would go on to win the game 1-0, but not before a stir by Riverhounds players and coaches seemed riled up about the penalty call in the first place.
From reviews, it seemed like a flop or an overly dramatic fall by forward Alex Dixon. Head coach Mark Steffens and assistant coach Nico Katic were ejected and defender Willie Hunt received a red card in the waning minutes.
Regardless, the Riverhounds need to start finding the early season magic they had in their ability to score. Teams have seemed to be able to shut down both Vincent and Kerr these last handful of games, and it is showing on the scoreboard.
Next week, Pittsburgh will host the New York Red Bulls II on a July 4th night that will hopefully include some fireworks on the field and in the air. This match will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Highmark Stadium.
Photo credit: Liz Berie