Photo courtesy Matt Wittmeyer / Rochester Rhinos
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Rhinos extended their undefeated streak to four games as they took a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday night in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3 at Capelli Sport Stadium. The Rhinos (3-1-3, 12pts) had the better of the opening 20 minutes, but neither side created a serious threat on goal until Tampa Bay’s Michael Nanchoff fired a shot just over from 25 yards in the 26th minute. The Rhinos took the lead a minute later, though, as a corner kick from the right fell to Wal Fall, who put home the rebound of his initial shot for a 1-0 lead. The Rowdies (6-3-2, 20pts) almost equalized from a corner of their own as Nanchoff’s back-post delivery from the right found Neill Collins, but the center back’s header was saved by Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. Tampa Bay continued to push for an equalizer in the second half, with its best opportunities coming from set pieces, but Gomez and his defense held firm as Collins’ effort in the first half stood as the only shot on goal for the visitors as the Rhinos claimed a solid victory.
27’ – ROC – Wal Fall
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Rhinos had to adapt to being without Wal Fall on Sunday against the Richmond Kickers, and the central midfielder’s return to the lineup against Tampa Bay proved a big boost at both ends of the field. Fall’s persistence paid off in scoring the opening goal off his own rebound, but it was in the defensive end where his defensive presence was most felt. Fall and Mike Garzi acted as a solid shield in front of the Rhinos three center backs, limiting passing lanes that saw one of the most creative teams in the USL unable to break the hosts down in the run of play.
2. Tampa Bay had the majority of the play in the second half, but never seemed to truly adapt to the conditions as it fell for the third time this season. The Rowdies got into good positions regularly out wide, with Michael Nanchoff’s service from set pieces proving regularly dangerous, but the visitors were unable to take advantage in a performance that was reminiscent of their 0-0 draw against Ottawa on May 6. This time, though, the Rowdies returned to Tampa Bay with no point to show for it.
3. Rochester’s win gave the side a solid step forward as it looks to take advantage of its games in hand on the teams above it in the Eastern Conference, putting the Rhinos into fifth place ahead of this weekend’s action. The Rhinos will close out their home stand at Capelli Sport Stadium in 10 days against FC Cincinnati, which on paper looks as key a contest as Wednesday night’s. Another win to move the club’s undefeated streak to five games would be very welcome for the 2015 USL Cup champions.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Wal Fall, Rochester Rhinos – Fall scored the only goal of the game, and helped clamp down on the Rowdies’ attack in the defensive third, to lead Rochester to victory.
Rochester Rhinos vs. FC Cincinnati – June 3, 6:05 p.m. ET, Capelli Sport Stadium
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Saint Louis FC – May 27, 7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium