October 16, 2015
RISING FOR THE RHINOS
Late goals lift Rochester to USL title over LA Galaxy II
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It took more than 90 minutes for the Rochester Rhinos to find their first shot on goal, and second-half sub Asani Samuels twice rose to the occasion.
Samuels scored two set-piece goals – an equalizer in second-half stoppage time and the game-winner in the 112th minute – as the Rhinos defeated the LA Galaxy II 2-1 in overtime to capture the 2015 USL Championship at Sahlen’s Stadium. For his heroics, Samuels was named the match MVP.
Samuels’ heroics lifted a Rhinos side that hadn’t threatened the net all night against the Galaxy II. In second-half stoppage time, down 1-0, the Rhinos finally struck when Jonny Mendoza’s corner was driven to the middle of the box. Samuels positioned himself in front of LA goalkeeper Clement Diop, rose high for the snap header and drove it into the net to tie the score at 1-1 and force overtime.
In the 112th minute, it was another set-piece chance as Kenardo Forbes took the corner from the left and Samuels found some space in the middle of the box. The Galaxy II defense and LA goalkeeper Bennett Sneddon, who had to replace an injured Diop, were unable to fend off Samuels who again headed the ball home for the Rhinos’ winner.
Before Samuels’ heroics, it appeared that LA was on the verge of the crown.
LA Galaxy II forward Ariel Lassiter’s scoring presence was constant in the postseason, and that continued Friday night as his second-half goal gave Los Dos a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute. Lassiter drew the free kick that was taken by Bryan Olivera from the left side. He whipped the ball in toward the edge of the six, where Bradley Diallo redirected off of the crossbar. The shot ricocheted back down to the left of the six-yard box and Lassiter converged to slot it home for the 1-0 lead.
With steady rain to open the match, it took some time for both sides to create some chances and rhythm. Rochester had an early opportunity off of an Alex Dixon header in the seventh minute. Mendoza darted down the right side and crossed the ball in from near the end line, but Dixon’s attempt went wide left of the goal.
The Galaxy II had the game’s first chance on goal in the 18th minute, nearly capitalizing on a free kick just outside the box after the Rhinos handled the ball. Olivera’s left-footed free kick deflected off of the wall, bounced back out and Olivera was there for the follow-up strike. His shot broke through the traffic and Rhinos goalkeeper Brandon Miller made a clutch reaction save to his right to keep the match scoreless.
Rochester’s offensive shortcomings continued in the second half, and as regulation wore on toward the final 10 minutes, LA found ways to keep the ball in the attacking half. When the Rhinos did find some attacking moments, the Los Dos defense smartly had numbers behind the ball to limit Rochester’s threat on goal.
Samuels, however, was able to turn the match around with the game-tying header in stoppage time and the momentum swung the Rhinos’ way.