Scouting Report: Rhinos no pushover in Open Cup
Philadelphia Union will host a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game for the first time on Tuesday night.
It will also be the first time the Union have played against a non-MLS team in a meaningful competition.
Tuesday's opponent, the Rochester Rhinos, qualified for the third round of the Open Cup with a 3-0 shutout over the Brooklyn Italians.
Jesse Myers' team is also off to a flying start in league play. Rochester are in second place in the USL Pro standings with a 6-1-2 record and 20 points.
The Rhinos are coming off a weekend roadtrip in which they played back-to-back games. Harrisburg got the better of Rochester on Friday night in a 1-0 win. Former Union winger Morgan Langley scored the game-winner off an assist from J.T. Noone, who also played for Philadelphia. Saturday's game played out to a 2-2 draw against the Dayton Dutch Lions.
Rochester have five forwards on their roster, two with MLS experience.
31 year old Thomas "Tam" McManus scored six goals in 20 appearances with Colorado in the 2008-2009 season. The veteran made stops in Scotland and Northern Ireland before returning stateside this year. He scored in the squad's 3-0 win over Brooklyn and also bagged his first league goal in Saturday's match against Dayton.
Former Red Bull Conor Chinn is another new addition to the team. The former third-round draft pick netted the second goal against Brooklyn and looks to have settled in Rochester after unsuccessful spells in Salt Lake City and Atlanta.
25-year-old Andrew Hoxie is the biggest body on the Rhino frontline. At 6-4, 208 pounds, he's the second biggest player on the team behind goalkeeper Kristian Nicht. Isaac Kissi and Graciano Brito are other options in the Rhino attack.
Look for another former Rapids man in the Rhinos midfield. 23-year-old Irishman Danny Earls returned to Rochester after spending the 2010-2011 season with Colorado. He'll take the Rhino corner kicks.
The rest of the midfield is likely to involve Tyler Rosenlund, Michael Zaher and JC Banks. Rosenlund plays centrally and Banks is a creator going forward. Myers has plenty of roster decisions to make with just two days of rest following those back-to-back league matches.
The aforementioned Nicht stands 6-5 in the Rhino goal. The big German has seven shutouts in all competitions this season.
Former Galaxy man Troy Roberts now anchors the Rochester defense. The center back won MLS Cup and Open Cup with LA back in 2005. His CB partner will likely be Georgios Kyriazis, a 32-year-old Greece native who spent most of the last decade in Italy's Serie B.
Jack Traynor is likely to line up at left back, with Quavas Kirk at right back. Traynor won USL Pro last season with Orlando City. Kirk is another player with MLS experience. He spent a few years with the Galaxy and DC United.
Keys to the Game
Don't sleep on Rochester. This is an experienced team with players who know Major League Soccer.
Myers has his team playing well this season, and they're doing it on the road. Rochester has a stellar 5-1-1 road record. They've only played three home games.
In 10 total games, including the 3-0 win over Brooklyn, Rochester have scored 13 goals and allowed just four. Before this weekend's back-to-back grind, they had not conceded a single goal on the road. The backbone of this team is a strong defense.
According to the Rhino website, their last victory over an MLS squad was in 2009. That was an Open Cup match against the Columbus Crew that came down to penalty kicks. Columbus were defending MLS Champions and fielded a decent side with the likes of Steven Lenhart, Duncan Oughton, Kevin Burns, and Eric Brunner.
Philadelphia will look to get back on track after a 1-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday. The short turnaround should help a team looking for its first win since the April 21 shutout against Chivas USA.
The Union will be without a number of players, including Gabriel Gomez, Porfirio Lopez and captain Carlos Valdes. Gomez and Lopez are away on international duty. Valdes is serving a red card suspension carried over from last year's Open Cup match at D.C. Manager Peter Nowak was also ejected in that match and will not be on the sidelines Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how the Union technical staff handles personnel decisions. Considering the contest is part of a meaningful tournament and the team is looking for momentum, expect Philadelphia to come ready to play.