FC Cincinnati (9-2-4) travels to Rochester, NY to face the Rochester Rhinos (6-4-4) on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. The Rhinos are in 6th place in the USL Eastern Conference on 22 points through 14 games. The Orange & Blue go into Rhinos Stadium coming off a 1-0 victory over Bethlehem Steel FC while Rochester drew New York Red Bull II 0-0 in Red Bull Arena. Check out CincinnatiSoccerTalk.com’s 7 Things to Know so you can be prepared for Wednesday night’s match.
Home Form vs. Away Form – Rochester is a completely different team in Rhinos Stadium than on the road. The Rhinos have compiled a 4W-1L-2T record at home this season but recently had their 24 game home unbeaten streak snapped with a 0-1 loss to Louisville on June 18th. The Rhinos have turned up their offense at home, scoring 11 of their 16 goals in their friendly confines. Head Coach Bob Lilley allows his team to attack more at home allowing more space for opposing teams leading to the Rhinos allowing 8 of their 13 goals against at home.
Difficult Offseason for the Defending Champions – The Rhinos were the 2015 USL Regular Season and 2015 USL Playoff Champions defeating LA Galaxy II 2-1 in the finals. For how great the 2015 season was, the offseason was equally as difficult. The former ownership group fought with city leaders and found themselves without a stadium lease. USL executives stepped in and revoked their franchise rights, selling them to Sacramento Kings minority owners David and Wendy Dworkin. The franchise now seems to be in steady hands with the Dworkins as they have added new field turf to the stadium, created new executive positions within the organization, and increased the clubs budget. Due to the ownership turnover, the Rhinos were one of the last USL rosters assembled and they have lacked the consistency of 2015.
Homecoming – Wednesday night’s match marks the return of FC Cincinnati right back Pat McMahon to Rochester. McMahon spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Rhinos, starting in the 2015 USL Championship Game. The right back featured in over 50 games for the Rhinos in his tenure and was a staple in their starting XI.
Bob Lilley – One of the most distinguished “non-first division” soccer coaches in North America. Lilley captured league titles with the Rhinos in 2015 and the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2006 (USL First Division). The Rhinos skipper also coached the Hershey Wildcats of the A-League to a league runner-up position in 2001. Lilley has been known as a defensive oriented coach with Rochester only allowing 15 goals in the 2015 USL regular season and ranking 2nd in goals against this season with 13.
Formation – Lilley has employed a 5-3-2/3-5-2 system this season with three center backs and two wing-backs. They have employed one of the center backs in a sweeper role and use a deep-lying midfielder. In the past, Rochester used a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 system but Lilley has been transitioning to the new system including using it in their 0-0 draw to NYRB2 and the 0-1 loss vs. Louisville City. The knock on the system so far has been the back three’s positioning, but Lilley has stated that time will make the formation better.
Statement Game – Regardless of how Rochester has played to date, an FC Cincinnati win on the road would be a HUGE statement to the rest of the USL. Rhinos Stadium is the closest thing to a fortress in the USL and 3 points would be impressive with LouCity being the only team to win there since August 2014.
History – Rochester like the Richmond Kickers are one of the longest tenured teams in American soccer. Founded in 1996 as a target for MLS expansion, Rochester has played in a variety of leagues in the lower tiers of soccer including the A-League, USL First Division, and USL Pro among others. They reached a championship game seven times in their history (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2015). The Rhinos have been regular-season league champions four times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2015). They also became the only non-Major League Soccer team to win the cup since MLS began play in 1996 by winning the 1999 U.S. Open Cup tournament.
This Wednesday’s game could have a big impact on the table. Three points gained would be a bonus in FC Cincinnati’s chances to contend for a regular season league championship.
Supporters Groups Watch Parties
Die Innenstadt – Rhinehaus, OTRThe Pride – Molly Malones, Covington
Lowen Des Sudens – Barlycorns, Cold Spring, KY.
Queen City Firm – Lucky Turtle, Winton Rd.
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for staff predictions and more news and analysis leading up to this week’s matches.