In a heated battle that saw both clubs get multiple chances from the run of play, it was a penalty kick that provided the difference as the Rochester Rhinos defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders 1-0 at the Skyline Sports Complex in the Second Round of the 2011 US Open Cup.
The Rhinos made sure to set the pace right off the kickoff as Kendall Jagdeosingh forced a corner kick for Rochester mere seconds into the match. However, it would be Harrisburg maintaining offensive control for most of the first half. The leader in the charge was City Islanders midfielder Brian Ombiji, who continually found his way into the Rhinos end. His play helped result in eight first half corner kicks, the result of which, however, left Harrisburg empty.
The second half saw some spectacular plays by the Rhinos defense. Early in the half, a Harrisburg shot was destined for goal, but Quavas Kirk was able to clear it off the line. Rochester almost edged their way in front as a header by Andrew Hoxie sailed just over the bar in the 65th minute. Back at the other end, the 81st minute is where Rochester keeper Neal Kitson would shine. A Harrisburg free kick just outside the box was sent inside, and after a one-timed shot from about 12 yards out, Kitson made a point blank save to keep the game scoreless. The rebound was later cleared for another City Islanders corner, on which they once again couldn’t capitalize.
The 89th minute would be where the game would finally change course. Jagdeosingh was taken down in the box by Harrisburg keeper Phil Tuttle, resulting in a Rochester penalty kick. Tony Donatelli stepped up to the spot and placed it inside the left post to put the Rhinos ahead 1-0. Rochester would hold on to that lead to earn a road victory with the same familiar scoreline that the teams have already seen on two other occasions this season.
The Rhinos will now host the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer in the Third Round on June 28 at Sahlen’s Stadium. The Rhinos are undefeated in regulation in the US Open Cup against Chicago, having a 1-0-1 record. Their most recent encounter was in the 2005 Quarterfinals, where after a 1-1 draw, the Fire would advance by a 5-4 margin on penalties. Their first meeting was in 1999, as the Rhinos won 1-0 in the Third Round. That made the Fire the first MLS victim of four as Rochester went on to make history as the first (and to this date, only) non-MLS side to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup since MLS kicked off in 1996.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Neal Kitson
89′: Tony Donatelli (PK) (Roc)
Rhinos: GK: Kitson; D: Roberts, Bellamy, Gore, Kirk; M: Motagalvan, Rosenlund, Tanke, Donatelli (Traynor 90+2′); F: Hoxie (Banks 80′), Jagdeosingh
City Islanders: GK: Tuttle; D: Basso, Bixler, Bloes, Calvano; M: Pelletier, Welker (Touray 81′), Noone, Schofield; F: Ombiji (Hotchkin 60′), Angulo
77′: Rosenlund (Roc)
90+4′: Touray (Har) (straight)