Rhinos pick up huge win over previously unbeaten Orlando City
Updated: Monday, July 28 2014, 12:03 AM EDT
ROCHESTER, NY - The Rochester Rhinos defeated the previously unbeaten Orlando City Lions 1:0 in front of 8,378 fans in Sahlen's Stadium on Sunday, July 27th 2014. Colin Rolfe scored the game winning goal in the first half off of an assist from Levi Houapeu. Rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy kept his eighth clean sheet of the season.
The loss was the first that Orlando City suffered this season. The Lions entered the match 14-0-4, and were on a quest to put together an undefeated regular season in their last year in USL PRO before they jump to Major League Soccer next season. The victory was Rochester's first over Orlando City in ten tries in USL PRO play.
The Rochester Rhinos opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Striker Houapeu sparked a counter attack when he surged through the Lions midfield, and ran up the middle of the pitch. Houapeu cut the ball back and held up play twenty five yards out from the Orlando City goal. He attempted to pass the ball to his left to strike partner Rolfe at the top of the box. After his initial two attempts were blocked by Lions center back Tommy Redding, Houapeu picked up the loose ball and successfully played it to Rolfe. Rolfe took a touch before bending the ball up and over Orlando City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo into the upper right corner of the net. The goal was Rolfe's second of the season.
Rochester entered the match with an 0-7-2 all-time mark against Orlando City in regular season play, and they had been outscored four to sixteen in those nine matches.. The Rhinos were 0-3-2 against the Lions in Sahlen's Stadium.
The visitors had an excellent chance to level the score in the 33rd minute. Head referee Democratis Pashalidis ruled that Rhinos holding midfielder Tony Walls fouled Lions striker Dennis Chin just outside the Rochester penalty area. The ball was set twenty four yards out near the left side of the box – a perfect shooting opportunity for a right footed player. Darwin Cerén got the ball over the wall and down on target, but McCarthy dove to his left and parried the ball around the post.
The Rhinos took the 1:0 lead into half time for the second consecutive time they played Orlando City in Sahlen's Stadium. On May 10th Tyler Rosenlund scored a first half goal off of an assist from JC Banks, but Orlando City center back Brad Rusin scored in the second half to finish the scoring in a 1:1 draw. It was the only time in series history that Rochester held a lead over the Lions at home.
Rochester had a chance to double their advantage early in the second half. Rosenlund sprung overlapping left back Onua Thomas Obasi down the left flank. Obasi took on Orlando City right back Tyler Turner one versus one, dribbled past him, and then whipped in a cross from the endline. Obasi's cross skipped through the Lions penalty area before finding the feet of Houapeu on the spot. Houapeu struck the ball well, but it was right at Gallardo .
Rochester had another golden chance to put the match away in the 70th minute. Substitute midfielder Michael Garzi was in possession of the ball on the right flank thirty five yards from the endline. Garzi played a perfectly weighted ball for Rosenlund's diagonal inside-out run. Rosenlund got around the corner and dribbled to the endline just before he played a perfect cutback pass to the penalty spot.
Rosenlund's pass found the feet of Garzi who had made a run into the box unmarked, but the rookie could not hold his composure from 12 yards. His effort sailed over the cross bar and Rochester continued to hold a one goal lead.
The series history at Sahlen's Stadium has been far closer than the series on the road in Orlando. The visiting Lions three wins came in one goal contests, and both draws in the series were at Sahlen's Stadium. While Rochester had been close in the past, Orlando City always had found a way to get a result – sometimes in heart breaking fashion. Last season in this ficture the Lions 2012 USL PRO Most Valuable Player Kevin Molino entered the match as a substitute in a scoreless draw in the 79th minute. Six minutes later he found the head of Eric Ustruck in the penalty box with a driven cross from the left flank for the only goal of the match, and the Lions went on to defeat the Rhinos 1:0.
On Sunday afternoon Rochester out shot their visitors four to two in the second half, but Orlando City earned 12 corners to one for the Rhinos over 90 minutes illustrating their ability to get to the endline and be dangerous throughout the match.
With the weight of history bearing down on their shoulders, Orlando City uncharacteristically lost their composure and had both Cerén and Luke Boden booked for dissent in the last ten minutes.
The visitor's break through seemed eminent in the 89th minute when Orlando City's First Team All-USL PRO left back Boden played a one-two with Molino to free up Boden down the left flank. Boden played a driven service into the near post, but McCarthy was there to smother the ball.
The Lions had a final chance to preserve their undefeated season in stoppage time. Cerén chipped a free kick from 32 yards out in the middle of the pitch to right back Turner at the far post. When Turner's snap header sailed past the far post, Orlando City's run at history ended.
McCarthy made two saves on eight shots to earn the shutout.
The victory leaves Rochester in fifth place in the USL PRO table with 30 points from 21 matches. Orlando City remains at the top of the table with 46 points – a four point advantage over second place Richmond with two matches in hand.