Asani Samuels only played 32 minutes in the Rochester Rhinos’ US Open Cup Third Round win over the Harrisburg City Islanders, but that was plenty of time to turn in a man-of-the-match performance.
Samuels assisted on one goal and scored two others in the Rhinos 3-1 extra-time victory. With the win, Rochester moves on to play the MLS’ Philadelphia Union in the Fourth Round.
The game struggled to get going, with both teams content to play defensive soccer. The game was unexpectedly turned on its head, however, when Rochester’s Steevan dos Santos picked up his second yellow card in the 38th minute, meaning the Rhinos would have to play a man down the rest of the game.
Harrisburg, which was trying to advance to the Fourth Round for the second year in a row, pressed forward in the second half, but chances were few and far between. The 1999 Open Cup champs, Rochester was able to keep the City Islanders off the scoreboard and even had a few chance of its own.
Samuels entered the game in the 88th minute and instantly produced problems for Harrisburg defenders. It was the home side with the best chance at the end of the game, however, when Jose Barril’s free kick from 25 yards out was saved by Rochester keeper Brandon Miller.
After a scoreless first half of extra time, the second half produced more action than the rest of the match combined. In the 106th minute, Harrisburg’s Eric Bird (on loan from Philadelphia) hit a laser of a shot that was initially saved by Miller. The rebound fell to Brett Jankouskas who easily scored from the left side of the box.
At this point Samuels began to put in a man-of-the-match performance.
Two minutes later, Samuels headed the ball in the Harrisburg box to Kenardo Forbes, who slotted it home to tie the game.
In the 115th minute, after a scrum in the City Islanders penalty area, the ball bounced to Samuels, who put it home for a 2-1 lead.
Harrisburg threw everything forward, giving Samuels another chance to show off his goal-scoring prowess. In injury time, Samuels dribbled to about 20 yards out from the Harrisburg goal and got the ball past Harrisburg City keeper Kyle Renfro for the final goal.
It may have taken a while to get to the action in this Third Round matchup, but that just made it all the sweeter for Samuels and the Rochester Rhinos, which will now play the Union on June 16.