Riverhounds shut out at home by Rochester
It was a result that could have been expected with one team fighting for a playoff spot and the other playing out the schedule.
Jochen Graf scored in the first minute, and Wal Fall scored soon after to give the visiting Rochester Rhinos a 2-0 win over the Riverhounds on Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
The Rhinos (12-7-11) became the fifth team to clinch a playoff berth in the USL's Eastern Conference with the win, and their unbeaten run against the Riverhounds (8-12-11), who were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, was extended to nine games.
“We had to step on the field against a motivated and sharp Rochester team,” Riverhounds coach Dave Brandt said. “In a spot where we were fighting for draws, disappointing (sometimes) but getting some good results, it's been a battle and we have battled. I'm disappointed in us, and I include myself in that. For us to drop three in a row right now, I just don't think it's right.”
Graf put the Rhinos on the board before the Riverhounds even got a touch on the ball. The Rhinos built up with a long ball down the right wing, where Christiano Francois sent a cross toward the near post for Graf to knock home on the volley just 24 seconds after the opening whistle.
It was a continuation of slow starts that have plagued the Riverhounds, who have lost three straight after not losing consecutive games all season. They fell behind 3-0 at Bethlehem and into a 1-0 hole at New York in their previous two games, leading to their playoff elimination.
“This was even as bad as Bethlehem. Bethlehem was bad; we were looking at each other when it was 3-0, but this was two quick goals,” Brandt said. “It's not right. It's unforgivable, and I don't know what to say.”
The Rhinos added to the lead in the 14th minute. Brad Kamdem curled a shot toward goal from the left side, but Riverhounds defender Gale Agbossoumonde was in position to block it away with his chest in front of the 6-yard box. The ball ricocheted directly to the feet of Fall, however, who calmly placed a shot into the right side of the net from 15 yards.
As has been the case in recent weeks, the Riverhounds produced a better second-half performance. Still, the scoring chances created were few and far between, and the Riverhounds finished with only six shots, none of which were on target against Rhinos goalie and former Pitt player Dan Lynd.
The Riverhounds close out the season hosting the also-eliminated Ottawa Fury next Saturday, and Brandt and his players cited a need to end on a high note, if for no other reason than professional pride.
“I think the only positive thing coming out of the last three games is that we have one more game left,” Riverhounds striker Corey Hertzog said. “We can end the season on a ‘W.' That's all we have to look at there. The three points in the standings don't matter.”
Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.