Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Rochester Rhinos scored late in the first half to take a 1-0 victory against the Charlotte Independence at Ramblewood Stadium on Saturday night to move within a point of the fourth-place Independence in the Eastern Conference standings with one game to play in the regular season. Charlotte opened the game well, but Rochester created a pair of good chance to take the lead as Christian Volesky had a shot deflected over the crossbar in the 24th minute, and Ryan James fired just wide of the left post a few minutes later. The Rhinos took the lead in the 42nd minute from the penalty spot when Steevan Dos Santos sent his finish top the top-left corner after a foul in the area. The Independence pressed hard for an equalizer early in the second half, and Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez had to make a good save through traffic from Charlotte’s Aly Hassan. Gomez remained active in the final 10 minutes of the game, but the Rhinos’ defense held firm to take a big victory on the road.
42’ – ROC – Steevan Dos Santos (PK)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Rhinos sent the race for the No. 4 seed and home-field advantage in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 USL Playoffs to the final weekend of the season thanks to a solid defensive display, and might now have a chance to start its title defense on home turf two weekends from now. With a home contest against Toronto FC II to close the season, the Rhinos will have a big chance to put pressure on both Charlotte and the Charleston Battery – who both kick off after the Rhinos’ game is set to end – with a victory to close out the season.
2. Rochester played a classic counter-puncher’s game on the road, and while Charlotte had the majority of possession in the first half, the Rhinos produced the more dangerous chances. While the goal eventually arrived via the penalty spot on a well-taken kick by Steevan Dos Santos, the Rhinos were able to claim what will likely have been a satisfying victory at the only venue they suffered defeat at a year ago by sticking to their plan very well, getting the goal they needed, and limiting Charlotte’s clear looks on goal.
3. The Independence have been in strong form since the start of August, but their defeat on Saturday night brought to light again how slim the margins in the race for playoff seeding has been over the past few weeks. The Independence still hold the edge over the Rhinos and Charleston Battery for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, but a trip to Louisville City FC next Saturday will be anything but easy as Charlotte looks to clinch a home playoff game at Slugger Field.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Steevan Dos Santos, Rochester Rhinos – Dos Santos took his chance from the penalty spot well, and linked up the midfield attack as the Rhinos looked to counter-attack during the night.
Charlotte Independence at Louisville City FC – Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field
Rochester Rhinos vs. Toronto FC II – Sept. 24, 5:05 p.m. ET, Rhinos Stadium