Rochester Rhinos News Release -- www.rhinossoccer.com
Thursday, July 26, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Rochester Rhinos will host the Los Angeles Blues in a crucial match at Sahlen’s Stadium on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. Rochester moved into second place in the USL PRO standings after its 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh last weekend, but the third-placed Charleston Battery have two games in hand on the Rhinos. The Los Angeles Blues enter the match three points behind sixth-placed Richmond in the race for the final USL PRO playoff spot this season. The Blues have a game in hand on the Kickers.
“Every match is critical right now.” Rhinos coach Jesse Myers said. “We’ve played the most matches of any team in the league this season. That means everyone behind us will have a chance to catch up over the next month, so we need to take as many points as we can.”
The biggest question mark for the Rhinos right now is the health of their star winger JC Banks. He left the Rhinos' victory against Pittsburgh on Saturday night with an apparent knee injury, and his availability for Friday night’s match against Los Angeles is not known. Banks leads the league in assists (8) and is second in the league in points (18). He is tied with Andrew Hoxie for the team lead in goals with five. Banks has appeared on the score sheet 11 times this season, and Rochester has a 9-1-1 record when he has had either a goal or assist. The Rhinos are 1-4-4 when he does not.
“JC has been a huge part of our success this season.” Myers said. “We’ve just had some guys return to the squad after long-term injuries, so that gives us some flexibility if we need to juggle the lineup and replace JC."
Three Rochester Rhinos returned to the starting lineup on Saturday night after missing a significant amount of time with injuries. Center back Georgios Kyriazis and left back Jack Traynor joined center back Troy Roberts and right back Lucas Fernandez in the back four, and star striker Isaac Kissi made his first start of the season up top. The three returning starters allowed Danny Earls to move from left wing into center midfield and newcomer Chris Estridge to play left wing.
The Los Angeles Blues made some major additions to their lineup before last week’s roster freeze, and they will enter Sahlen’s Stadium on a two-game winning streak. The Blues acquired Orlando City’s striker Max Griffin on loan, and he paid immediate dividends with the game-winning goal against Antigua on Saturday, July 14th. Blues coach Charlie Naimo also reinforced his defense with the loan acquisition of rookie center back Andrew Jean-Baptitste (Portland Timbers), and the return of defender Josh Suggs, who was a member of the Blues 2011 side. The new faces in the back allowed youngster Bryan Burke to return to his favored position of forward, and he responded by scoring two goals against Antigua. The new Blues drew with Guatamalan superpower Municipal on Sunday night in an exhibition.
“I thought they were a talented team when we played them in Los Angeles to start the season, and I think that they might be even more talented right now.” Myers said. “They are much better than their record indicates right now, and they are going to be a tough team to beat.”
Friday, July 27th will be “Legends Night” at Sahlen’s Stadium. The Rhinos 2012 Hall of Fame Class of Doug Miller, Craig Demmin, and Pat Onstad will all be at the match. The iconic trio will be signing pre-game autographs, and they will participate in a ceremonial kickoff before the match. The first 1,000 fans will receive a complementary Doug Miller bobblehead courtesy of Wendy’s Restaurants. 98PXY, the number one hit music station, will have a live remote at the match, and the Rhinos pregame happy hour will feature $1 drafts until kickoff.
Tickets to Friday night’s match are available by calling 585-454-KICK, by visiting rhinossoccer.com, or by going to any Ticketmaster Retail location.