ROCHESTER, NY - The Rochester Rhinos were the better side at Capelli Sport Stadium on Saturday night, but a late Ottawa Fury penalty kick nullified Christiano Francois’ goal to end the match at 1-1. With the draw, Rochester jumps up to 3rd place in the USL Eastern Conference with 7 matches left to play before the start of the playoffs.
The Rhinos got off to a flying start in the 19th minute. After a poor clearance, Jalen Brown collected the ball about 25 yards from goal and chipped the ball to Ryan James coming down the right wing. James got to the endline and dinked a ball into the box. The goalkeeper was caught hanging on his near-post and Christiano Francois; the shortest player on the field, was there to head the ball into the empty net to give Rochester a 1-0 lead.
Rochester had one of their better halves of the entire season, keeping the Fury on their back foot for the majority of the opening period and dominating on the wings - thanks to impressive displays from Francois and Jalen Brown. The Rhinos led the half in crosses 12-3.
Ottawa had a chance to equalize on the stroke of halftime, as they were awarded a free kick about 40 yards from goal in stoppage time. Gerardo Bruna found former-Rhino Steevan Dos Santos at the far post, but he could not put the effort on frame.
Kenardo Forbes nearly doubled the Rhinos lead 5 minutes into the second half, but was denied by Fury goalkeeper at the near post. Francois beat his man down the left wing and cut the ball back towards the top of the box. Julian Buscher let the ball go through his legs, allowing Forbes to have a wide open look and place a driven shot perfectly towards the near post. Irving dove to his right and touched the ball around the post for a potential USL Save of the Week nominee.
Despite trailing 15-4 in shots at the time, Ottawa would level the score in the 71st minute by way of a Steevan Dos Santos penalty kick. Andrae Campbell carried the ball down the left wing and was fouled by Ryan James, and was controversially judged to be inside the box. Dos Santos would send Dan Lynd the other way for his team-leading 8th goal of the season to level the match at 1. This was the 5th-straight match in which Dos Santos scored, extending his Fury franchise record.
The Rhinos would get chances towards the end of stoppage time after Bruna was sent off for a second yellow in the 88th-minute, but they couldn’t convert and they would split the points.
Rochester Rhinos Head Coach Bob Lilley was quite pleased with the team’s performance “I thought it was one of our better performances of the year. We pressured high up the field, we didn’t sit back on our one goal lead. Nine times out of ten we win that match. We have a tough road ahead of us, and if we play like we did tonight, good things will happen.”
Rochester hits the road for a trio of matches and will face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds next Saturday, September 16th. They’ll follow that match up with an important clash with first-placed Louisville City FC on Wednesday, September 20th before heading to Richmond to face the Kickers on Saturday the 23rd.
The next home match is Saturday, September 30th for a match against the aforementioned Eastern Conference leaders Louisville City FC. It’s Oktoberfest at Capelli Sport Stadium, where fans will be able to sample beer around the concourse and be treated to a live band! We’re partnering up with the Irondequoit Oktoberfest to give you two Oktoberfests for one low price! Get your tickets here!
STATS (Click here for advanced stats!)
Shots: Rhinos 16 (4) - 7 (4)
Possession: Rhinos 51-49%
Corners: Rhinos 7-2
Fouls: Rhinos 22-16
ROC - Christiano Francois 19' (Ryan James)
OTT - Steevan Dos Santos 71' (PEN)