Rochester were the far better of the two sides on Wednesday night in St. Louis, but former Rhinos and St. Louis FC Adam Grinwis stole the show as the two sides ended 0-0, extending the Rhinos winless streak to three.
The match was originally slated for May 6th, but flooding in St. Louis postponed the match, leaving the Rhinos to go on a 22 day stretch without a match.
The Rhinos started off the match in typical Bob Lilley-fashion, a solid defensive battle that allowed Rochester to later dictate the pace of the match.
St. Louis FC featured three former Rhinos, with goalkeeper Grinwis and forward/leading goal scorer Christian Volesky in the starting lineup. Three-year Rhino Tony Walls started on the bench and would feature in the second half.
STLFC went into the match having not scored since June 2nd, and didn’t show any sign of hitting the back of the net early, going without a shot in the first half and extending their scoreless streak to over 400 minutes.
The Rhinos however looked potent in attack late in the first half, as they nearly created goals on multiple occasions. On the first corner of the match in the 36th minute, Rhinos captain Kenardo Forbes served a ball that found the head of rookie center back Todd Pratzner. Joe Farrell chested the ball up and attempted a spectacular bicycle kick that went about a foot over the crossbar.
A minute later, Forbes darted through the St. Louis midfield and found Jochen Graf, who put the ball onto his left and fired a low shot that ended up trapped in between the legs of Grinwis.
The best chance of the half occurred right before stoppage time, as Forbes ambitiously hit a free kick from about 40 yards on the left side that whistled towards the top corner. Adam Grinwis came to the rescue and made a spectacular diving save which could very well be a nominee for USL Save of the Week.
The Rhinos rode that momentum into the second half and dominated the final 45 from the start. Eight of Rochester’s 10 corner kicks came in the second period, and a majority of them created dangerous opportunites.
In the 53rd minute, a corner squirted out to Jordan Dover who hit a half volley on a one-time effort from about 30 yards that looked goal-bound, but sailed over the crossbar.
10 minutes later, Todd Pratzner made a spectacular tackle that led to another Forbes chance down the left wing that forced Grinwis to sweat as his shot drifted just past the left post.
Another 10 minutes later, Grinwis came to the rescue once again. Graf got the ball down the left wing and cut inside. He found an open Wal Fall, who spun off his defender and had the whole goal in front of him and chose the bottom left corner. Grinwis sprung across his line and somehow got his fingertips on the effort and put it wide.
The best chance of the match may have been in the dying embers as Graf received the ball around the penalty spot with the goal gaping in front of him. He hit it towards the upper right corner, but leaned just a tad too far back and hit it over the crossbar, denying the Rhinos victory and 3 points. They’d have to settle for a nil-nil draw.
STLFC didn’t get a shot off until the 58th minute of the match when they finally broke free down the left side. Tomas Gomez would be there to make a routine save. His only heavy lifting of the match would come in the 72nd minute when he made an astounding save on Christian Volesky. Volesky hit his show from a low cross point blank from 8 yards that somehow found a piece of Gomez.
The Rhinos come home to face the Harrisburg City Islanders on ROC Heroes Night, presented by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. Kickoff is this Saturday, July 8th at 6:05PM. This match is also the first leg of the inaugural Capelli Sport Hero Cup, where the teams will wear specially-made Capelli Sport camouflage jerseys that will be auctioned off on the Bidr platform until August 15th.
The proceeds will benefit the Rochester area Veterans Outreach Center as well as the Badge of Honor Association and the Harrisburg chapter of the Wounded Warrior Project.