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Preview: AC St. Louis Visits Rochester Saturday Night

The young AC St. Louis team travels to Rochester to take on the Rhinos Saturday night at 6:00 pm CDT.  Both teams have played 6 games:  AC St. Louis is coming off its first win, while Rochester is 2-1-2, playing its first four games on the road.  The game is available for viewing via online streaming at the NASL or club websites.

The Rochester Rhinos (formerly known as the Rochester Raging Rhinos) have been in existence since 1996 in the second tier of American professional soccer, but have played in six championship games, winning three titles.  They are also the only non MLS team to win the US Open Cup since the inception of MLS, capturing the trophy in 1999.  Rochester plays in Marina Auto Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 13,000, and drew over 7,000 fans to last week’s home opener.  Team colors are black, green and white.

New Rochester Coach Bob Lilley is a former indoor player who has had success coaching indoor with the Harrisburg Heat as well as coaching the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps.  The 2010 Rhinos have many new faces, as only veteran goalkeeper Scott Vallow, defender Nathaniel Short and midfielder Ryan Heins return from last year’s squad. 

The player turnover, however, does not mean that Rochester lacks veteran experience.  On the backline, captain Frankie Sanfilippo has over 150 USL games on his resume, while Troy Roberts played over 60 games for the LA Galaxy.  Adam West played for the USL Seattle Sounders, and Aaron Pitchkolan has played over 75 games in MLS, mostly for FC Dallas.  Midfielder Darren Spicer has played over 70 USL games for the Minnesota Thunder and Charleston Battery, while his fellow midfielder Tyler Rosenlund played 8 times for Toronto FC as well as earning 35 caps for the Canadian U-23, U-20 and U-17 teams.  Midfielder Andrew Hoxie scored 20 goals in 42 games for PDL side Virgina Legacy, and forward Anthony Hamilton played seven games for Chivas USA.  Hamilton was also a member of the 2009 PDL Champion Ventura County Fusion along with teammate Alfonso Motogalvan and AC St. Louis’ Dillon Barna and Hagop Chirishian.  Former Real Salt Lake forward Tino Nunez leads the Rhinos with two goals.  Befitting Coach Lilley’s background, several of the Rhinos have played professional indoor soccer, including  South African defender Jonathan Greenfield and midfielders Ryan Heins and Ian Bennett.

AC St. Louis journeys to Rochester seeking its first points on the road of the 2010 season.  Goalkeeper Alec Dufty secured his first clean sheet last week, and in fact the AC St. Louis defense hasn’t allowed a goal in the last 160 minutes, as the Killer B backline of rookies Mark Bloom, Dillon Barna, Zach Bauer and USL veteran Tim Velten have shown improved steadiness along with a physical approach.  The quality of midfield play has also increased for AC St. Louis, and surely former Rhinos Luke Kreamalmeyer and Mike Ambersley will be looking to make their mark against their former club.  Steve Ralston is unlikely to play, due to Marina Auto Stadium’s turf surface, but newly arrived Brazilian winger Gauchinho, who played four seasons for Naestved in Denmark’s 1st division, may get into the game.  Injuries up front have slowed down AC St. Louis’ attack, as Brad Stisser, Elvir Kafedzic and Alex Titton have missed games due to injury, so Coach Claude Anelka still must search to find the right combination on the attacking line.  AC St. Louis has tallied only two goals in five contests thus far.

Next week AC St. Louis again travel to Portland to play the league-leading TImbers, before returning home May 22 for a contest with FC Tampa Bay Rowdies.

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