Match Report: Rochester Rhinos – Vancouver Whitecaps (31/7/09)
We’ve all experienced it. Your team is struggling. You really need that lucky break to kickstart and save your season. What happens? All the breaks go against you and you feel the whole world is against you.
When that doesn’t happen though and you somehow do manage to get that lucky break, well, it not only feels so good, it can also be the turning point everyone’s been waiting for.
If Vancouver Whitecaps are going to make this year’s USL playoffs and record back to back Championships, then this coming week is crunch time for them.
Facing three away games in a week, including ridiculous back to back games on Friday and Saturday (I know, don’t ask!), it was vital that they took something from each game on the road trip and with the Caps away form being woeful at present, there wasn’t a whole lot of optimism flying around.
As Friday night’s game at Rochester Rhinos Marina Auto Stadium got underway, things were looking less promising as Rochester had a number of half chances without really threatening the Caps goal, although you did feel that it was a matter of time as Jay Nolly in Vancouver’s goal and the Caps back four defended resolutely.
The Rhinos featured ex Whitecaps fave Steve Kindel in their starting line up, no doubt keen to prove a point, but thankfully unable to.
The first half was becoming a bit of a snoozefest really, with little of note, before the Caps had their first real chance of the match when Marlon James headed Tyrell Burgess’ cross past the post from a good position on 37 minutes.
Two minutes later though came the game changing moment. Gordon Chin went on a mazy in the box, but running out of room and options tried to play the ball into the goalmouth, more in hope than expectation. The ball hit Brent Sancho on the inner leg and the referee inexplicably blew for a Vancouver penalty. We got the break!
The Rochester players tried to make the referee watch the video replay screen to no avail and up stepped Marlon James to coolly slot home the penalty for 1-0 Caps after 39 minutes.
The second half started in the same uninspiring fashion before suddenly springing into life and soon we were witnessing a cracking game of football.
Rochester had a great chance to tie things up on 57 minutes when Jay Nolly failed to hold an Andrew Gregor free kick into the box, but Geordie Lyall was there to clear away the danger.
Moments later Vancouver, and Marlon James himself, doubled their advantage and it was against the run of play when a Rochester player slipped in the middle, allowing James to collect the ball, run on and play the ball out left to Burgess. Burgess hit what looked like a squaffed shot but it ran along the edge of the box, straight into the path of James who buried it hard and low past Melia for an unlikely two goal lead. If it was a pin point pass, it was a cracker!
The goal took James to joint highest scorer in USL1, which is excellent considering how much game time he’s missed so far this season.
The two goal lead lasted only two minutes and the Rhinos had some great control from John Ball to thank for it. Ball did excellently to keep the other ball in play, then aided by Takashi Hirano falling over, his whipped cross low into the six yard box was only cleared out as far as Tiger Fitzpatrick and he curled a beauty into the bottom left hand corner of the net to make it 2-1 after 62 minutes.
We’re now losing count of how many goals Hirano has cost the Caps this season.
Rochester then made the strange decision of making four changes to a team that had just received a confidence boost. Yes, for those unaware, the USL allows a farcical five subs per team in each game. It’s rare you see so many at once though and the whole thing is just a timewasters dream.
Rochester pushed for the equaliser and Kenney Bertz forced Nolly to make a brilliant extended save from his bullet header from a Menyongar corner on 66 minutes.
The action was now end to end and Gordon Chin had a chipped effort across goal that went past.
Moments later though and it was 3-1 Caps when James won a tussle to claim a long kick by Nolly. The big striker powered towards goal and his shot was blocked at close range but came out to Chin who cut inside and played the ball to Burgess. The dangerous Bermudan took a touch then blasted a 20 yard rocket high into the net for his first goal of the season after 69 minutes.
The Rhinos were shocked by the goal and with the Caps confident and in the ascendance, James unleashed a long range effort high and over.
Charles Gbeke had come on as a sub for James and he used his strength to get on to a Martin Nash corner with 12 minutes remaining, but Melia produced a point blank save to keep it at three.
The game was petering out to it’s conclusion when with two minutes remaining the Caps nearly made it four. A quick break out of defence with a neat passing move, and the Caps temporarily down to ten men with Hirano off getting treatment, led to sub Ansu Toure and Charles Gbeke with a 2 on 1 situation.
Toure took the shot on himself, as Gbeke strayed borderline offside and although Toure forced Melia into a sprawling save and the ball fell just out of position for a stretched Gbeke, it really should have been the four on the boards.
Stoppage time came and went and Vancouver recorded their first win in Rochester since their 2006 Championship win and a much needed one at that.
Some impressive performances on display from the Caps with Gordon Chin having another strong showing in the middle and Tyrell Burgess is coming onto a dangerous game now.
If Vancouver can take at least four points from the next two away matches then they’re back at the races and we can all start to look forward to the playoffs once again.
Final Score: Rochester Rhinos 1 – 3 Vancouver Whitecaps