Sometimes one is enough. Jochen Graf’s 9th goal of the season came in the 38th minute and Tomas Gomez recorded his 11th clean sheet of the season as the Rhinos would win their penultimate match of the season 1-0 over Bethlehem Steel FC. The win denied the Steel their first-ever playoff berth, while sending the Rhinos into 4th place in the USL Eastern Conference with a 13-7-11 record (50 points). The Rhinos will host a playoff match with a win or a Charlotte Independence loss/draw this Saturday.
The defense did exceptionally well once again, which is very encouraging heading into the playoff season. The back line has given up just one shot on goal in the last two matches combined (1 vs. Bethlehem, 0 vs. Pittsburgh).
The first chance came in the 24th minute, as Kenardo Forbes swung a cross in that bounced inside the box and found Jochen Graf. Graf’s shot from 12 yards would get deflected and go just wide of the target.
Just before the half-hour mark, the Rhinos had a big penalty shout go ignored. Jordan Dover got free down the right wing and sent a hard low cross that a defender arguably handled while falling down. Despite the protests of players and fans alike, no call was given.
Five minutes later, Rochester would continue to generate the attack from the right side. Kenardo Forbes put a nice ball across that Wal Fall would flick onto Julian Buescher. He looked in a great position, but his shot was blocked and would go out for a corner.
The Rhinos would open the scoring after a beautiful string of passes. Forbes served in a beautiful cross while Jochen Graf slipped inside his defender and put his header into the far corner. Graf moves into a tie for the team lead with Wal Fall with his 9th goal of the season, while Forbes is currently tied with winger Christiano Francois with 5 assists.
The Rhinos nearly doubled their lead 5 minutes into the second half. Graf got the ball down the end line and picked out Wal Fall at the top of the six-yard box. Fall sent his one-time effort over the crossbar.
Many chances would come and go in a very physical second half, but the Rhinos would be extremely solid in the middle of the field; tackling at a rate of 90%, allowing their opponents very few chances to form an attack.
Rochester will close out the 2017 USL regular season against a very hungry New York Red Bulls II squad in a match that pits the last two USL champions against one another. Kickoff is set for 6:05 PM. It’s GoGreen Night presented by SunCommon. We’ll also be presenting the newest members of the Rhinos Hall of Fame and the team awards. NYRB II needs at least a draw to ensure a playoff berth.