Kenardo Forbes of the Rochester Rhinos scored the lone goal in the 39th minute. Photo: Luis Rosario | www.LuisRosar.io
Despite blowing away their opponents on the stat sheet, the Rochester Rhinos were only able to put one past Greater Binghamton Thunder goalkeeper Jason Stenta in a 1-0 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Second Round victory. The goal by Kenardo Forbes was one of 16 shots that Rochester took but a combination of wastefulness in the final third and great positioning from Stenta kept the game close until the final whistle.
Wednesday night’s match between the former tournament winner and the second-year entrant started out physical almost from the opening whistle. Players from both sides exchanged rather aggressive challenges to set the tone in the early minutes. Slavisa Ubiparipovic, younger brother of Ottawa Fury FC midfielder Sinisa, was booked by referee David Mon for a particularly egregious tackle from behind on Rochester’s left Onua Obasi in the 13th minute. Even though the match never lost this chippy edge in the remaining time, the referee kept his cards in his pocket after that.
At the half hour mark, Marcos Ugarte sent a low cross into the middle from the left channel. The ball eluded both Duba and Kenardo Forbes but fell to Drew Ruggles near the top of the area. The first-year Rhino blasted his opportunity over the goal and into the top row of seats.
The rookie winger out of Providence College probably should have won a penalty for the Rhinos in the 38th minute. Ugarte cut in from the left wing and darted in between several Binghamton defenders. Jacob Sutherland and Domenico Vitale combined to sandwich Ugarte off the ball as he drove through the area towards goal but David Mon saw nothing awry with the physical challenge.
Rather than discourage Ugarte, the previous non-call seemed to encourage him. The very next minute Ugarte again broke free down the left flank and played low service into the box. Duba met the cross wide of the near post and attempted to feed Drew Ruggles with a ball through the goalmouth instead of shooting from a tight angle. Goalkeeper Stenta came off his line to intercept the pass but the ball bobbled around off him, Ruggles, and Jherrett Maroney.
Former Jamaican international Forbes saw the loose ball rolling toward him inside the area. Intelligently Forbes took a touch away from goal to create space before turning and chipping a shot over the goalkeeper. Three Binghamton defenders took up positions on the goal line but Patrick Thompson was unable to prevent the ball from going in and his header deflected into the roof of the net.
While the goal was not the cleanest attacking sequence for the home side, the 39th minute goal was still good enough for a 1-0 lead to take into halftime.
Rochester created a number of half-chances to open the second half but couldn’t manage to take quality shots on frame. Binghamton’s determination in the face of a challenging professional side was on display in the second half at Sahlen’s Stadium. The visitors’ best chances of the game all came towards the end of regulation.
Ubiparipovic, Božidar Jelovac, and substitute Daniel Kraynak combined well to weave an attack through Rochester’s high defensive line in the 75th minute. A ball came in from Kraynak on the right flank to the feet of Ubiparipovic at the top of the box. Julian Ringhof came in hard on Ubiparipovic in a challenge deemed fair by David Mon. A couple of inches difference on the tackle and Rochester may have been facing a penalty and the rest of the game a man down.
In the 86th minute Jelovac raced up the left channel and made quick work of both right back Sean Totsch and center back Ringhof but was stranded with no options to retain possession. The game became stretched in the last few minutes of regulation and during the four additional minutes of stoppage time as Rochester seemed intent to add a second rather than look after the ball.
After Ubiparipovic forced Rochester goalkeeper Adam Grinwis into a hurried clearance, the ball fell to Binghamton captain Christopher Riley. Without hesitation Riley unleashed a volley from about 35 yards out that forced Grinwis into his first save of the game. Binghamton’s lone shot on the night came in the 92nd minute.
After the game, Rochester coach Bob Lilley spoke about the result. “It’s disappointing that we didn’t put it together and put the game away a little sooner. Most of the times these games are close, at least we didn’t have to burn another 30 minutes; we just played 90 tonight,” Lilley joked, referring to the two cup games last year that went to extra time for the Rhinos.
“I think we were fairly comfortable but there were a few moments in the second half where maybe they could have gotten a chance and hit a shot into the corner of the net.”
“It was not a great performance but it’s the result we needed,” Lilley said, summing up the general sentiment of his players.
Rochester will now travel to central Pennsylvania next week for a Third Round matchup against Harrisburg City Islanders, who defeated PDL-side Reading United AC in the last round. It will be the second meeting between the two clubs. Rochester defeated the City Islanders 1-0 in Harrisburg back in 2011. Greater Binghamton FC can build on their strong performance and organized team shape when they return to NPSL action this Saturday, May 23 at home against Clarkstown SC Eagles.
The Rhinos head to Harrisburg to face their league rivals City Islanders on Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. The two have not met yet in USL play this season but Harrisburg holds a 4-2-1 record, good enough for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.