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Year in Review: Rochester Rhinos

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 11/23/16, 12:30PM EST


Defending champions took Red Bulls II to the brink to end another strong season

Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls II

The Rochester Rhinos’ elimination in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs by eventual champion the New York Red Bulls II meant that the USL would have to wait another year for its first back-to-back champions, but the side put up an excellent defense of its title as the new ownership group led by David and Wendy Dworkin got to work building the club off the field.

The Rhinos remained one of the most difficult sides to beat in the USL thanks to a stingy defense that saw goalkeeper Tomas Gomez earn the USL Golden Glove with a 0.69 goals-against average, while the attacking duo of Christian Volesky and Steevan Dos Santos continued to provide the side with enough attacking punch for a top-four finish.


Record: 13-5-12, 51 points
Place: Fourth in the Eastern Conference
Goals For: 38
Goals Against: 25
USL Cup Playoffs: Eastern Conference Semifinals (W 3-1 vs. Charlotte Independence; L 3-3 (4-5 PKs) at New York Red Bulls II)

2016 leaders: Christian Volesky (10 goals), Steevan Dos Santos (5 assists), Tomas Gomez (39 saves)


The Rhinos were never going to replicate their record-setting defensive marks of 2015, but they remained among the best defensive sides in the league, conceding only 25 goals and allowing the fewest shots on goal of any side in the USL with a miserly 85 in the regular season. The club also made some good new additions in the likes of Joe Farrell, who was named a finalist for Rookie of the Year, and Wall Fal, whose two-way play was excellent for most of the season.


The Rhinos grew strongly throughout the season, but some of the bumps in the road that saw road losses to Toronto FC II and Orlando City B were a surprise, as was a three-game stint that saw draws against Toronto, Bethlehem and Harrisburg. And while there’s no shame in falling in a penalty shootout in the playoffs, the Rhinos’ will have been deeply disappointed to give away a penalty kick equalizer against New York when it seemed they had grabbed a brilliant road win in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.


The Rhinos’ opening goal of the season was also one of their best, as Christian Volesky’s chipped finish against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was a thing of beauty.

The other half of the Rhinos’ attacking combination struck precisely in the side’s visit to FC Cincinnati, finishing off a move down the left side to earn the side a 1-1 draw on the road.


Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez preserved victory in stoppage time against FC Cincinnati at Rhinos Stadium with a point-blank save on Sean Okoli.

Gomez also came up big late on against the Charleston Battery with a save on Jeremy Ebobisse that earned the Rhinos a 2-1 victory at MUSC Health Stadium.


“Unfortunately we fell a little bit short, but it doesn’t take away what they did tonight and the last 20 games. Sometimes the game is cruel.” – Rochester Rhinos Head Coach Bob Lilley following the club's defeat in a penalty shootout to the New York Red Bulls II

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