The Rochester Rhinos were arguably the best team throughout the entire USL season, losing just once in 35 matches, and it showed late in the championship game as they came away with yet another trophy after defeating the Los Dos by a score of 2-1. The Rhinos sealed their win in added extra time after goals coming from Asani Samuels; Los Angeles’ lone goal was scored by Ari Lassiter.
In a championship match, at any level, you never want to make the first mistake. So in the opening 45 minutes both teams played a little conservatively. Ari Lassiter had the first half-chance of the night as he flashed his effort wide of the near post. A handball was called near the top of the eighteen yard box for Los Dos setting up a dangerous opportunity. The initial drive was slammed into the wall before the rebound was stopped well by the Rochester shot stopper.
Three minutes before the half hour mark is when Diop was finally called into action. A through ball had sliced the Galaxy back four apart easily before the young French goalie came off his line to thump the ball clear of danger. Jack McBean’s first involvement came on thirty minutes as he tried drove a low cross in front of the opposition’s defense and nearly found Raul Mendiola who, unfortunately, could not get on the end of the delivery.
Six minutes later, Mendiola’s technical ability was in the limelight as he used his ball control to keep possession alive before feeding Bradley Diallo. The former-Marseille academy defender blazed by a Rhino defender and his pass towards the middle of the box, towards McBean, was blocked. However, this showed what the second team was made of as they used individual skill to free up a bit of space for themselves.
After a scoreless first half, it was the visitors once more who got the first chance of the second 45 minutes as Diop found Lassiter with a fantastic distribution pass. Lassiter could not do anything with it though and turned the ball back over when his effort flew out for a goal kick.
Finally, four minutes after the hour mark, there was a breakthrough and it came way of the Lassiter. Number 53’s initial header was tipped onto the bar by the Rhino’s goal keeper, following a set piece, but the goal scorer was there at the right place and tapped the ball into the empty net.
Off a corner, with a minute of stoppage time nearly gone, Rochester got the equalizing goal. It was the big Asani Samuels who rose up above the rest and headed his effort downwards behind Diop, forcing this match to go into extra time.
There second and final goal of the evening came off another corner. Samuels dominated Tommy Meyer with his physicality and was able to get ahead of Los Dos’ back up goal keeper which eventually clinched the championship.
Despite not bringing home the USL Championship, this season showed progress as Los Dos had to battle on the road in each round and never gave up.