10-man FC Montreal were defeated 3-0 by the Rochester Rhinos
SETTING THE STAGE
One of the best rivalries in North America at the time of the A-League was between Montreal and Rochester, and they met again on Saturday.
Rochester had claimed four points in two matches this season, a draw at NYRB II and a victory at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Montreal did not fare so well in their first match, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in the home opener at Olympic Stadium.
David Paulmin got the start this week in goal for FC Montreal instead of Yann-Alexandre Fillion, who started last week against Toronto FC. The change can be presumed to have been made with the intent of sharing playing time as opposed to performance issues. A high quality turf pitch with a few bleachers shadowed by Olympic Stadium, served as the venue for this fixture.
FC Montreal revived the rivalry with Rochester at Stade Saputo Turf field, located between Stade Saputo and Olympic Stadium. Rochester controlled possession in the middle early on, but had a lot of turnovers in the offensive third of the pitch. Around the 20th minute, the Rhinos’ Tony Walls got his head on a corner but was not able to put the attempt on frame. In the following minutes, FC Montreal were able to stretch the Rhinos’ defense and create a couple chances. Each side had three corner kicks by the 30th minute mark, with neither side able to convert. Rochester had the tendency to win the ball but then turn over right away with a bad a pass, or trying to dribble out of the back.
Jonny Mendoza scored a beautiful goal off a counter attack just for Rochester, after his squad was temporarily reduced to 10 men due to an injury. The Colombian ripped his shot from the center of the field, just a few inches outside the eighteen yard box, a curler that beat Paulmin to the far post. Following the goal, Rochester created a couple more chances and only allowed one to FC Montreal.
Montreal came out of the dressing room for the second half with a lot of energy, and were giving Rochester everything they had. The Rhinos’ Colin Rolfe,had suffered a knock earlier in the match and Lilley, not wanting to take any risks, replaced him with Christian Volesky in the 54th minute. Daivid Paulmin made a great save at the 61-minute mark when a Kenardo Forbes cheeky chip attempt did not catch him off guard. Just four minutes later, Montreal’s Franck Zoue attempted a hard tackle on Alex Dixon from behind, when he was the last defender and Dixon was alone to goal. Zoue was sent off and the ensuing free kick on the edge of the area did not result in a goal.
With FC Montreal reduced to ten men, the Rhinos kept the pressure on, and Volesky, RC’s Week 4 “player to watch” scored a goal in the box off a cross in from the far side at the 68th minute. Volesky scored an extremely similar goal just over a minute later. Following this moment, the match started getting chippy with some hard tackles, as the commentators alluded to the old rivalry between these two cities. Both teams made a few subs and Rochester controlled the rest of the match. They created numerous more chances, but Paulmin stood on his head, as Canadiens fans would say.
N’Diaye and Lajoie-Gravelle were linking up very well throughout the match. FC Montreal should look to build upon that linkage when they attack in future matches. Before the red card, FC Montreal looked promising and composed on the ball. Their performance deserved a goal and the result does not show how they actually played. FC Montreal player of the match has to be Dave Paulmin who made many great saves, keeping the score from getting really ugly. This team has potential, They will score goals soon and most likely against Harrisburg. The Impact youth players were very unfortunate not to score before the red card. They have nowhere to go but up as the season continues on.
Both teams were turning the ball over, back and forth throughout the match, something they will need to improve as the season progresses. The Rhinos were shaky early on with poor passes and attempts to dribble out of the back. However, Onua Thomas Obasi was incredible defensively for Rochester during his 65 minutes of play. Volesky looked great after he came on, and Dixon made some really nice runs. Another road victory for the Rhinos brings them up to seven points as they head into next week.
Man of the Match: Rochester Forward Alex Dixon
Rochester will play their first ever match against Louisville City at Slugger Field on Thursday April 16. Meanwhile Le Bleu will head across the border for the first time the season when they travel south for Harrisburg’s home opener on City Island next Saturday.