USL Week 24 Wrap-Up: Rhinos Clinch Bye, Harrisburg Scores High

Image, USL

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

USL Week 24 has finally confirmed what we’ve all known this season — the Rochester Rhinos are undoubtedly the best team in the league.

Whether that translates to success in the playoffs is a completely different question. However, their recent 2-0 victory and mathematical lock as the top seed in the Eastern Conference is enough to make them an instant favorite heading into the playoffs.

Closer to the red line in the East sits Harrisburg City who, after a demolition of FC Montreal, sit one point shy of the final playoff spot. Pittsburgh held on to it with a win of their own. This combination sets up a frantic and possibly dramatic end of the season with many teams having only three or four more fixtures remaining.

Rochester is Dominant

Let’s review the numbers. This season the Rochester Rhinos have only lost once and have only been scored on twelve times — which makes them the most defensively sound team in the USL. This weekend’s 2-0 victory over St. Louis FC was a recent example at the expense of one of the league’s newer teams. Nine points off of the last playoff spot, St. Louis would have to win out their final three games and hope for several teams above them to lose for the remainder of the season to see any glimmer of hope in the playoffs. Rochester, knowing St. Louis’ peril, took advantage and capitalized on the team’s mistakes.

The first goal came early in the first half as Colin Rolfe scored after Rochester intercepted a bad pass from St. Louis. The Rhinos didn’t stop there, adding a brace as captain Tony Walls found the scoresheet. Both goals were assisted by Kenardo Forbes who looked dynamic in springing the offense forward all game long.

The win guarantees the Rhinos a bye into the USL Eastern Conference semi-finals where they will await the winner of the number three and number six seed pairing.

Harrisburg’s Six Goal Outburst

If you thought the Islanders were out of the hunt, you were wrong. Their win over FC Montreal capped off a rough week for the Canadians as they lost earlier in the week to the Charlotte Independence. What’s even worse is that they didn’t find the back of the net in either game. However, Harrisburg had no problems finding the goal as they rained six on them at Skyline Sports Complex.

Scoring started early as the Islanders were up by three goals before the halftime whistle. Jason Plumhoff dominated the highlights with two goals. However he wouldn’t garner man of the match awards. That distinction would go to Craig Foster who buried three in the second half for his first USL hat trick. Foster’s arrival has certainly given Harrisburg the spark they lacked offensively earlier in the season. Now the question is whether or not the move was done with enough time.

Harrisburg currently sits in seventh place, one point off the mark from Pittsburgh. With five games remaining and three of them against teams above them in the standings, this momentum will need to carry on. The goals will also need to continue for a team that has conceded eleven goals in the last five games.

USL Week 24 Results:

Charlotte Independence: 1
FC Montreal: 0

Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 1
Real Monarchs SLC: 2

Wilmington Hammerheads: 0
New York Red Bull II: 2

Charleston Battery: 2
Richmond Kickers: 0

FC Montreal: 0
Harrisburg City Islanders: 6

Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 1
Louisville City FC: 0

Austin Aztex: 0
Oklahoma City Energy FC: 2

Portland Timbers FC 2: 1
Orange County Blues FC: 3

LA Galaxy II: 2
Arizona United SC: 1

Tulsa Roughnecks: 1
Sacramento Republic FC: 3

Charlotte Independence: 2
Toronto FC II: 2

St. Louis FC: 0
Rochester Rhinos: 2


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