ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester Rhinos defeated the Red Bulls II 2-1 in a confrotnation between the last two United Soccer League champions Saturday night to claim the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Rhinos will face the Charlotte Independence in the conference quarterfinals next Saturday, Oct. 21 at 6:05 p.m.
New York will await its final playoff seeding and first-round matchup following the finish of FC Cincinnati-Toronto FC II and Bethlehem Steel FC-St. Louis FC matches to discover their first round opponent.
“Obviously, we’d rather go off into the playoffs with a better result, but Rochester is a tough place to play we did a lot of good things tonight,” Red Bulls head coach John Wolyniec said. “We got ourselves down on a couple areas, I thought maybe a little bit of a flat performance, not the best. We stood toe to toe with one of the better teams in the league at their place, and if we play a little bit tougher next week I have confidence that we’ll get a better result.”
Rochester opened the scoring in the 35th minute as Jochen Graf headed home a Christiano Francois cross past goalkeeper Rafael Diaz to take a 1-0 lead at Capelli Sport Stadium.
NYRB II responded two minutes later with Florian Valot finding the back of the net, his eighth goal in his past nine games, off a Vincent Bezecourt free kick. The goal was Valot’s ninth and Bezecourt’s 11th assist.
Andrew Lombard, a Red Bulls Academy product, made his professional debut starting at left back. He came off in the 42nd minute and was replaced by Ethan Kutler due to injury.
NYRB II nearly took a 2-1 lead in the 55th minute off a Junior Flemmings shot the snuck past the keeper but went just wide of the post.
Rochester took advantage and doubled its lead in the 68th minute as a Jordan Scarlett sliding clearance cleared to an on-rushing attacker to push one past Diaz.
“Definitely credit to Rochester,” Diaz said. “They came out to play really tough, we know this is a tough place to play they’re a very physical team. They were able to get the ball wide and get some crosses which was tough for us to deal. We weren’t able to win second balls and I think it put us behind the game. It was tough for us to play and it resulted in the result.”
In the 81st minute, Scarlett was whistled for a handball in the box and Rochester was awarded a penalty kick.
With regular penalty kick taker Wal Fall already substituted, Jochen Graf took the attempt, but Diaz made the save to his right.
NYRB II aimed to find the equalizer but a last-minute header from Kutler didn’t have enough behind it to sneak over the line.
Wolyniec walked away impressed with Rhinos. He that they were “very organized, obviously defense first. Physical, very competitive, challenges us in a lot of ways.”
“I thought we held up pretty well,” he added. “We’ve just got to learn how to do a little better to win our individual battles and protect ourselves a little better and bring the game to them.”
New York: Florian Valot 9 (Bezecourt) 37′
Rochester: Jochen Graf 35′, Kenardo Forbes 68′
New York: Vincent Bezecourt 75′, Arun Basuljevic 90′
Rochester: Ryan Felix 61′, Jospeh Farrell 87′
New York: Diaz; Lombard (Ethan Kutler, 42nd minute), Scarlett, Ndam, Najem, Bezecourt, Tinari (Arun Basuljevic, 70th minute), Metzger, Flemmings (Ben Mines, 77th minute), Valot, Bonomo
Rochester: Lynd, Farrell, Felix, Pratzner, James, Forbes, Francois (Mike Garzi, 77th minute), Fall (Julian Buscher, 62nd minute), Dover, Lee, Graf (Darius Madison, 90th minute)