07/11/2012 12:12 PM
The Rochester Rhinos visit the Wilmington Hammerheads on Thursday, July 12th at 7:30PM in Legion Stadium. The Hammerheads are currently fourth in the USL PRO table while the Rhinos are in second place. However, Wilmington is one of two teams in the league who are still undefeated at home this season. They have a 6-0-2 record with 15 goals scored (second in USL PRO) and five goals conceded (best in USL PRO) in Legion Stadium. Wilmington is 1-5-2 away from home this season with a minus nine goal differential.
“Wilmington is a well-organized team with hard working players throughout their lineup.” Rhinos head coach Jesse Myers said. “Legion Stadium is a bit cozier than most venues in our league, and they are very effective playing at home. They are going to try to pressure us defensively, and they are going to get the ball forward quickly.”
The match will showcase two of USL PRO’s top offensive threats in Wilmington’s striker Corey Hertzog and Rochester’s winger JC Banks. Hertzog is on loan from the New York Red Bull. He has seven goals is nine matches. His seven goals and 16 points are tied for third in the league. Banks leads USL PRO in assists with eight, and is tied with Hertzog for third in the league with 16 points. Banks is one assist short of tying the Rhinos single season record, and he is already tied for ninth in club history with 12 assists after not even playing two full seasons in Rochester.
“JC has been our most consistent threat this season.” Myers said. “He has the ability to put pressure on a defense with the dribble and then set up a team mate or finish his own chance. He can influence the match and create a scoring chance at any time. There is still a next level for him to reach, but we’re happy with the way he is developing.”
After this weekend the Rhinos will only have five matches remaining, and the table will begin to sort itself out. Second place Rochester visits top of the table Orlando City on Saturday night while fourth place Wilmington travels to third place Charleston. City is currently nine points clear of Rochester, but the two teams still have two matches left to play this season. This weekend could sort out the top of the table, or it could open up race to the finish for the league championship. The weekend could also be decisive for eighth place LA Blues and ninth place Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes.
“There’s no question there are some high profile games this weekend.” Myers said. “We think we’ve improved as a team over the past two or three weeks, and this is a chance for us to play against two of the top four teams in the league. We really don’t have the luxury of looking ahead to Orlando on Saturday because we know we’ve got a tough test in Wilmington. There are good teams battling it out for the sixth playoff spot right now. We need to get some points this weekend to stay out of that scrap. With only six playoff teams there will be good teams missing out this year.”
The Rochester Rhinos have agreed to terms with Chris Estridge, and he is traveling with the team this weekend. Estridge is a rookie left back from Indiana University who had three goals and five assists coming out of the back. He was an NSCAA All-American as a senior with the Hoosiers last fall. He was invited to the 2012 MLS Combine, and was rated as the top left back in the draft. He was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the second round before he was traded to Real Salt Lake in April.
“We’re happy to have been able to add Chris to the mix this season.” said Myers. “He’s athletic and has a lot of pace which is important in this league. He was a good collegiate player who needs to get some professional matches to continue to develop. Jack (Traynor) and (Michael) Zaher have both missed games with injuries, and Chris can help give us some depth this weekend.”
The Rhinos Thursday night match with Wilmington can be seen live on UNATION at uslnation.com beginning at 7:30PM.
Rochester’s next home match will be on Saturday, July 21st in Sahlen’s Stadium at 7PM against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Tickets are on sale by calling 585-454-KICK, by visiting rhinossoccer.com, or by visiting any Ticket Master Retail location.