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USL PRO Match Preview: Rochester Rhinos vs. Harrisburg City Islanders


This Saturday, the Rochester Rhinos play their first game at home this season against familiar foe Harrisburg City Islanders.

The Rochester Rhinos host the Harrisburg City Islanders at Sahlen’s Stadium at 7:00 PM. The Rhinos last contest was Saturday in Harrisburg, which they lost 5-1. The City Islanders dominated from the beginning with lots of opportunities, and Sainey Touray could have easily had a hat trick against the Rhinos last weekend. The City Islanders are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Charleston Battery on Wednesday night at Skyline Sports Complex. The lone goal for the Isle Guys came from a rocket shot off the foot of Christian Hernandez. He was loaned to Harrisburg this year by the Philadelphia Union and has played a vital role in his team’s attack. Hernandez had an assist in Colorado that helped the team defeat the Rapids’ reserves. However, despite scoring the goal against the Battery, his ball serving was not very accurate as multiple free kicks did not connect with a team mate.

Rochester opened the season on the road against VSI Tampa Bay FC, Orlando City SC, Charlotte Eagles, Richmond Kickers, and Harrisburg City Islanders. Currently, the Rhinos post a record of zero wins, four defeats, and one draw. Their one point came in a zero-zero draw against the Charlotte Eagles. So far they have given up fifteen goals in those five contests, averaging three goals per game. Rochester has shown very poor play in the midfield this season; they are constantly turning the ball over in the middle third of the field. In soccer, usually the team that controls the middle of the field will control the game. As the scores show, Rochester cannot control games this year. They did display some good attack in Harrisburg and despite being down a man.  They were able to create multiple scoring opportunities and finished one to even the game at one point. On Saturday, the Rhinos must control the game for ninety minutes to earn three points for the first time this year.

I think the second meeting between the two clubs will be a much closer encounter than the previous one. Rochester has had a whole week of rest and will be playing at home. In the meantime, Harrisburg will be playing their third game in eight days and will have to travel all the way to western New York. I think the Rhinos will come out fired up in front of the home crowd. Since they sit one spot above Antigua at the bottom of the table, Rochester is in desperate need of a good result and must start getting points before they fall too far behind.

Earlier this week, Rochester outside back, Bilal Duckett was recalled by the New England Revolution. Harrisburg will likely see the return of midfielder and captain Jason Pelletier. Pelletier will likely serve as a holding mid-fielder and will lock down defensively.  With Pelletier filling that role, it should allow Christian Hernandez more chances to roam forward. The City Islanders tend to play in a 4-3-3 formation, while Rochester will likely play a 4-4-2.

Despite losing on Wednesday, Bill Becher showed that he has a lot of depth in his lineup by starting a very different lineup than in the home opener. I personally think he should have Langely up top with McLaughlin and Touray out wide, in the midfield, he should play Ekra and Mellor out wide with Hernandez and possibly Pelletier, if he returns. In the back, the Islanders will have Zizzi and Anding at the wings with Andrews and Jordan in the middle.

I predict the final score will be a 2-2 draw.


Ray Stellhorn
The first USL contributor at RecklessChallenge, provides coverage of Harrisburg City Islanders and occasionally other USL teams. He used to live in Glasgow, Scotland but is now currently finishing studying a Bachelor's degree in Sports Administration with minors in Business and International Studies.

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