Photo courtesy Emily Byrne / Rochester Rhinos
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The only 2016 rematch in the opening weekend of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs sees the No. 4-seed Rochester Rhinos once again face the No. 5-seed Charlotte Independence in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Capelli Sport Stadium on Saturday night, with the Rhinos looking to build on a late-season surge in the regular season and the Independence aiming to turn the page on a disappointing run of form. #ROCvCLT is set for a 6:05 p.m. ET kickoff and can be seen live on the USL Match Center.
The @RochesterRhinos are on a three-game winning streak going into the playoffs after back-to-back victories against fellow playoff sides Bethlehem Steel FC and the New York Red Bulls II in the final week of the regular season. Those wins, powered in part by a goal in either contest by Jochen Graf, allowed the Rhinos to overtake the Independence for fourth position and homefield advantage on Saturday night. With Rochester’s stellar home playoff record – the last side to defeat Rochester at home in the USL Cup Playoffs was the Charleston Battery in a penalty shootout in 2012 – the hosts will be hopeful of maintaining their current four-game home playoff winning streak.
The @CLTIndependence will be well aware of that after being the last side to fall at Capelli Sport Stadium in the playoffs a year ago, when Rochester took a 3-1 victory and Independence standout Enzo Martinez was sent off late in a high-intensity affair. Getting Martinez and the rest of the Independence attack back on track is going to be key on Saturday as Charlotte enters the playoffs on a five-game losing streak that saw it miss out on the first home playoff game in club history. When they’re on their game, though, the Independence are capable of attacking fireworks, and the memory of last season’s defeat could light a fire under the side as it looks for its first postseason victory.
257 – The Rochester Rhinos faced the fewest shots of any side in the USL this regular season, allowing only 257 attempted shots to their opposition.
53 – Charlotte Independence forward Enzo Martinez recorded a league-high 53 shots on goal in the regular season, and posted a 17.02 chance conversion rate.
Rochester (3-4-2-1) – GK: Tomas Gomez; D: Todd Pratzner, Joe Farrell, Ryan Felix; M: Ray Lee, Ryan James, Kenardo Forbes, Jordan Dover; AM: Wal Fall, Christiano Francois; F: Jochen Graf
Charlotte (4-2-3-1) – GK: Cody Mizell; D: Joel Johnson, Bilal Duckett, Henry Kalungi, Austin Yearwood; DM: Jun Marques Davidson, Lewis Hilton; AM: Alex Martinez, Enzo Martinez, David Estrada; F: Jorge Herrera
Rochester – None
Charlotte – None
REF: BARDHYL PASHAJ
AR1: Victor Vazquez
AR2: Democratis Pashalidis
4TH: David Rousseau