CINCINNATI, OH - The Rhinos were on the fortunate side of an absolutely wild contest in Cincinnati and came out of Nippert Stadium 3-2 winners to leapfrog FC Cincinnati and move into 5th place at 8-3-8 (32 points), only 5 points behind Eastern Conference leaders Charleston Battery with 2 matches in hand. FCC falls to 8-7-6 (30 points).
Rochester started off the match on the front foot, dominating possession early and they were rewarded for their efforts. In the 12th minute, Bradley Kamdem Fewo put in a cross to a wide-open Sofiane Tergou. The second-year Rhino headed the ball down which took a deflection off FCC’s Justin Hoyte and landed at the foot of Jochen Graf. Graf took a touch and slotted the ball into the lower left corner off the post and Rochester celebrated a 1-0 lead.
Just before the half-hour mark, Cincinnati would strike back. Rhinos GK Tomas Gomez came out of his goal to try to stop Jimmy McLaughlin’s effort, but he would slide the ball underneath him. The ball would eventually trickle over the line and the match was tied at 1.
The orange and blue would then go on the front foot until leading scorer Djiby Fall picked up a controversial 2nd yellow card in the 42nd minute for putting his studs into Wal Fall as he attempted to clear the ball. The crowd of 23,548 at Nippert Stadium booed Wal Fall each time he touched the ball for the rest of the match.
The first half hour of the second half was largely uneventful with the Rhinos very comfortable in possession and winning several corners, but frustratingly unable to get the goal to put them over the top. Tergou came closest in the 70th minute when he found himself open about 10 yards from goal on the left side but was saved by FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt on the near-post.
The fireworks began in the 78th minute when Fall was brought down on the edge of the box by defender Andrew Weideman and referee Guido Gonzalez pointed to the spot. Fall placed the ball down and converted the penalty kick to give the Rhinos a late 2-1 lead. Fall ran towards the Cincy fans and covered his ears in celebration and was promptly shown a yellow card for the act.
Just three minutes later, the Rhinos were shockingly awarded another penalty. Graf received the ball in the area and flicked it towards the top of the box. The ball clearly hit the chest of Cincinnati debutant Kevin Schindler; a former Bundesliga player with Werder Bremen, and Gonzalez pointed to the spot again, much to the bemusement of the Cincinnati supporters and players. Fall converted his second penalty and it was 3-1 Rochester with just eight minutes to play plus stoppage.
Cincinnati was awarded a penalty of its own with four minutes to go as the Rhinos were called for a handball in the penalty area, and Danni Konig converted into the right corner.
The referee was the center of attention in this match, handing out a total of 7 yellow cards, 1 red card on the field, and ejected the Cincinnati Assistant Coach and their backup goalkeeper Dallas Jaye from the bench.
Rochester would see the match out and send their unbeaten streak to 6 matches (3-0-3).
Next up for the Rhinos: a rematch of the 2016 USL quarterfinals at New York Red Bulls II on Saturday, August 5th at Montclair State University. Rochester drew NYRB II 2-2 in their home opener in April thanks to a last-second goal by Joe Farrell.
12’ – ROC – Jochen Graf
29’ – CIN – Jimmy McLaughlin (Kenney Walker)
78’ – ROC – Wal Fall (penalty)
82’ – ROC – Wal Fall (penalty)
86’ – CIN – Danni Konig (penalty)