Photo courtesy of Rochester Rhinos
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The defending USL champion Rochester Rhinos held their ground against an expansion FC Cincinnati side that has enjoyed some significant buzz and success all season. In the first of two meetings between the clubs this year, Rochester grabbed the early series lead as Mike Garzi and Steevan Dos Santos each scored for the Rhinos during their 2-1 victory on Wednesday at Rhinos Stadium. Sean Okoli gave Cincinnati some late live with a penalty kick tally in the 75th minute, but Rochester would hold on the rest of the way to end Cincinnati’s impressive 11-game unbeaten streak (7-0-4). Rochester improves to 7-4-4 (25 points) overall and 5-1-2 at home and Cincinnati drops to 9-3-4 (31 points) overall and 3-2-2 on the road. Cincinnati had posted a five-game unbeaten streak on the road (3-0-2) heading into Wednesday night. The two sides will face each other one more time on Aug. 24 at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.
34’ – ROC – Mike Garzi
65’ – ROC – Steevan Dos Santos (penalty)
75’ – CIN – Sean Okoli (penalty)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Rochester was off and running with Mike Garzi’s unassisted score in the 34th minute. The Rhinos’ Marcos Ugarte did a nice job to prevent the ball from crossing the end line, and he crossed in from the left looking for Steevan Dos Santos. The ball ricocheted among Dos Santos, Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt and a defender and popped out above the six-yard area. Garzi pounced on it and fired inside the right post for a 1-0 lead. Then in the second half, Dos Santos scored a goal of his own in the 65th minute, slotting into the left of the frame for a two-goal cushion.
2. Cincinnati’s goal-scoring leader Sean Okoli was once again a serious threat to his opposition, eventually finding the net when he converted a 75th-minute penalty kick to cut Rochester’s lead to 2-1. Earlier, Okoli struck the crossbar in the 26th minute as the visiting Cincinnati nearly broke through with the opener. Okoli also had a diving header in the 47th minute that Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez stopped with a dive to his left. Okoli now has eight goals on the season. In the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, Okoli had one more opportunity for the equalizer, but Gomez denied him at the near left post.
3. Former MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry made his long awaited return for Cincinnati. After suffering a quad injury back in late April, the defender replaced Paul Nicholson in the 63rd minute. It was just Berry’s sixth appearance of the season as the defender had had posted two goals during the month of April.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Marcos Ugarte, Rochester Rhinos - Ugarte was involved in a number of tough challenges and hustle plays throughout the match, most notably during the Rhinos' 34th-minute goal-scoring sequence.
Rochester Rhinos vs. Orlando City B – July 10, 6:05 p.m. ET, Rhinos Stadium
FC Cincinnati at Saint Louis FC – July 7, 7:30 p.m. CT, World Wide Technology Soccer Park