Rhinos Win Home Opener to Stay Perfect

The Rochester Rhinos won their 17th home opener 1:0 on Saturday in front of a crowd of 7,959 in Sahlen's Stadium.  The Rhinos fourth consecutive clean sheet and a ninth minute own goal from Charlotte defender Mark Bloom left Rochester in second place in the USL PRO table on goal differential at the end of Saturday night.

The Rhinos got their game winning goal on their first chance of the match in the ninth minute.  After a good spell of possession, Rhinos holding midfielder Drew Cost played a long diagonal ball to right winger JC Banks.  Banks was able to get around Charlotte's left back Scott Jones and dribble up the endline.  He served a well driven ball across Charlotte's goalmouth and Bloom ended up touching it into his own goal.

The Rhinos were content to sit back and defend their early lead, and the next chance of the match did not come until the 36th minute.  After another good spell of possession, Rhinos left back Jack Traynor played a ball to left winger Danny Earls, who had slipped into the center of the park.  Earls laid off a pass first time to withdrawn forward Tom McManus.  McManus switched the ball out to Banks on the right flank.  Banks cut inside and took a shot that was right at Charlotte keeper Jack Reed.

Charlotte had a talking point in the 41st minute of the match when Jones whipped a free kick into the Rhinos box.  Charlotte's attacking midfielder Milton Blanco flicked the ball behind the Rhinos back four for right winger Chris Salvaggione.  Rhinos center back Georgios Kyriazis got into the back of Salvaggione and he went down in the area, but head referee Steve Montanino did not blow his whistle for a penalty.  The Rhinos led 1:0 at the break.

Former Rochester Rhinos striker and Rochester Lancers (MISL) superstar Mauricio Salles had four chances to level the match for Charlotte from set pieces in the second half.  In the 49th minute Salles drove a ball through the Rhinos wall from 35 yards out, but Rhinos center back Troy Roberts was able to deflect the shot out for a corner kick.  In the 74th minute Salles had his best opportunity when he got a free kick on target, but he hit his 31 yard effort right at Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht. Roberts and Kyriazis marked Salles all night and he did not have a quality chance in the run of play.

The Rhinos did not fall back into the defensive bunker that had been a staple of their first three victories on the road.  They had nine shots on goal and six corner kicks in the second half.  Nicht had to make two saves in the second half for the clean sheet while Reed had to keep out four shots for Charlotte.

"We created chances from the flanks tonight and we got rewarded for our efforts early on."  Rhinos head coach Jesse Myers said.  "We put in another very good defensive effort to secure the three points."

The Rochester Rhinos are now in second place in the USL PRO table.  They trail Charleston on goal differential, but they have a game in hand over the Battery.  This is the fourth time in Rhinos history that the club has started out a season 4-0.  It is the first time in Rhinos history that the club has started the season with four consecutive clean sheets.  Rochester will take a 360 minute scoreless streak into Charlotte in a rematch with the Eagles next Friday night.

The Rhinos next home game is on Friday, May 18th against the Dutch Lions in Sahlen's Stadium at 7:30PM.

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