The Rise and Fall of the Rochester Rhinos

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by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

Sunil Gulati and Ivan Gazidis, two of the most powerful men in American soccer, are in Rochester, New York, home of the second-tier Raging Rhinos. They’re sitting in an unfinished suite at the newly-built PaeTec Park. Behind them, fans are filling in for a match against the New England Revolution. 9,503 people will attend this game, the second-largest crowd for any U.S. Open Cup match in 2006.

Gulati, president of the USSF, and Gazidis, Major League Soccer’s deputy commissioner, begin by praising the venue they’re sitting in. At the time, it is one of the few soccer-specific stadiums in the United States. Along with Jeff DiVeronica, the Rhinos beat writer for the Democrat and Chronicle, they reminisce fondly about old Open Cup matches.

DiVeronica then asks “the question everyone in this town wants to know.” It is not, at this time, an outlandish question. He asks them “do you think this city, this ownership group, deserves a shot to have an MLS team?”

Less than two years later, the Rhinos were in crisis. They were without an owner. The city of Rochester took control over their stadium. The most important question was no longer about MLS, but  whether the team would even play in the upcoming USL season.

What went wrong in Rochester?

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  • Smith

    That was a very good piece. I am sure it will devolve in a few moments into a discussion of Red Bull, NYCFC, The Cosmos and artisinal cheese, but it was a very interesting piece.

  • tony

    extinction is the rule,survival is the exception

  • OpenCupFan

    Lack of pro/rel kills another club. Sad.

    • Esteban

      Exactly. That crossed my mind multiple times. I just don’t get why these independent USL teams are content to sit around and play MLS reserves, when they could join NASL and actually be independent. A Cosmos vs Rochester rivalry would be great for both teams, and the league.

      • TJ

        There is this thing called money which you seem to not have a concept of.

        • Esteban

          Money is what I’m talking about you idiot. At least these independent could experience the Raul effect, as well as the experience of playing strictly against other independent clubs, instead of trying to get people excited about watching the team play MLS reserve squads every other week. It’s more than obvious that MLS is the most financial stable of the three leagues, but a lot of that comes from the league paying the team’s salaries, I have a hard time taking any indy USL team serious when their end goal seems to be mediocracy.

        • Esteban

          If the determining factor was talent, not an entry fee, Rochester would have reaped the benefits of Beckham and MLS paying for their roster, but since there is no pro/rel one of the more established clubs of the time in all of the country is playing against Gal II trying to stay relevant.

          • Ryan Brister

            By their own admission, the “benefits of MLS” would have meant paying more in terms of covering league-wide losses than in salaries.

    • DanGerman

      Did you read the article? This teams owners and there lack of money killed them not the lack of Pro\Reg.

      • TJ

        These people do not read. They are zealots. The Rhinos owner had no money. End of story. If they went to MLS, they would have folded.

      • Mitch

        If they didn’t have to pay an expansion fee, if they didn’t have to share the loses of the league … they’d been able to be in the top flight. The MLS model limits the ability of the small clubs to grow. I think you should read about how soccer works outside of the s*** show that is MLS.

      • Jin Old-Boy

        In some why, yes. The life of a lower division club is a sad one in the USA and Canada. Many lower division clubs are owned by communities and passionate club owners. No matter how successful and passionate a club is, the only thing that matters is 1st division status. Only a small amount of soccer fans will support a club in the lower division while when those clubs get a new stadium and first division status, fake fans take notice after all the true fans done all the hard work. That is the life of soccer club supporters in MLS of teams that used to play in the lower divisions. However, for the clubs with hardcore fans in the lower divisions that was pass up by MLS, they will sadly witness a downward spiral because of the lack of exposure and money. You can thank the USSF on this one.

    • Anonymous

      Given the level of investment that the current owners of MLS teams have put into the league, you can’t seriously expect that they’ll then go on to institute a system of promotion and relegation that could prevent them from getting a return on that investment… Domestic soccer in the USA is just not at a place yet where owners will be willing to take that kind of financial risk without some sort of basic guarantees (like the team you just spent millions on and build a stadium for actually having a spot in the league). It’s just an unreasonable expectation at this point.

      • Anonymous

        It’s not their choice.

        A real federation would dictate terms

  • Alphonse Diablo

    Good research and reporting. Enjoyed the article.

  • Esteban

    Very good piece. I am unfamiliar with the Rhinos story, but this was fascinating. Stories like this make me curious as to how teams can survive outside of MLS, especially after a few years when the excitement has faded.

    • OpenCupFan

      That’s why teams in minor leagues across the country fold by 100s. Not just teams, but whole minor leagues just disappear. The current system is good for top level leagues and “out of business” for the rest. Good job job USSF!

      • TJ

        Funny how baseball has tons of minor league teams and no one folds. There also hasn’t been many teams folding in soccer. How many have folded in the USL and NASL this year?

        • slowleftarm

          Minor league player salaries are paid by the major league clubs. Big difference.

          • OD

            BINGO! Apples to oranges. No minor league team’s fans can match the passion for even the worst fans in MLB. There’s no denying the benefits that come with playing in the top level, which is closed off to anyone who doesn’t have $100 mil and Gulati/Garber on their Christmas card list.

      • Anonymous

        I think you might be exaggerating on the number of teams and “whole minor leagues” actually folding… While I don’t doubt that it happens, I’m quite sure that it’s nowhere near in the hundreds.

        • OpenCupFan

          Google it. You’ll be surprised how often it happens in franchise system.
          .
          In pro/rel soccer it hasn’t happened yet.

          • Anonymous

            I think it’s important to keep in mind that the environment in which professional soccer exists in other countries where such a system exists is an important factor to keep in mind. Soccer is much more well established outside of the USA and most of the teams that play at this point have been around for a really long time.

            We’re still at a stage in this country where we’re educating mainstream society about the sport and anytime you have an environment where new teams are being formed from nothing, inevitably, you’re going to have a lot of them fail.

            Another thing I’d like to note is that the system of independent clubs with promotion and relegation is not without its own problems. Look at any of the major leagues right now and you can see clear winners and clear losers of such a system. Sure, some previously relegated team may get promoted, but they often just get blown away completely by the rich, established, favorites and end up being completely irrelevant anyway. Unless your the most die-hard fan, do you really want to show up to games knowing that you have no chance of winning and that your team is nothing but just another stepping stone for Chelsea or Manchester City to win its next championship? Is the promotion really meaningful if there’s no reasonable possibility of winning it all? Will the promotion itself really save a team that otherwise might have failed in light of this? I think one can debate this, but it’s something worth considering.

            The single-entity franchise system of the MLS, while admittedly shitty on many fronts, does at least encourage a level of parity and honest competition where it feels like every team has an honest chance to win a given game. You simply don’t get that in most other leagues… at least not on the level it exists in the MLS. I understand that even in the MLS, we have our heavyweights (eg. LA Galaxy), but they’re not so far out of reach as the heavyweights in other leagues. Even if that parity is artificially generated and maintained, I think it’s important for the growth of the sport and the creation of a stable fan base at this particular moment because in any sport, it’s a general fact that fans are unlikely to show up in numbers if it doesn’t feel like there’s any hope of victory. This goes double if it’s a brand new team without an established history or fan base. Sure, the novelty of a new team might fill the seats for the first few years, but casuals fatigue when their team can’t win and like it or not, the ability to keep the casuals are what generally make the difference between success and failure.

            This is why I question whether NASL and its dream will ultimately be successful. It’s an interesting experiment in attempting to establish something more akin to foreign soccer leagues in the domestic scene. I suppose we’ll get our answers as to which is ultimately the better system for this country in a decade or two’s time. But then again, that’s another story entirely…

            • OpenCupFan

              It’s easy, just look at the big four here, that’s what mls is shooting for. Is that what you want? Yes or no. Popularity is already there, problem is quality of domestic league isn’t level of foreign leagues yet.
              .
              Stop selectively using history – here’s some history, every attempt at soccer leagues in this country that has failed has been closed system.

              • Anonymous

                But the big four are closed systems as well, so can’t you argue that MLS is just doing exactly what has proven to be successful for the other major sports in this country? It’s not like the NY Giants or NY Knicks are independent entities…

                You may be right that every attempt at soccer leagues in this country that has failed has been a closed system. I don’t have enough information to confirm or dispute that. But there could be a myriad of reasons that those attempts failed and it may very well have nothing to do with the system itself. If it was so easy to create a successful sports league, I imagine we would have a lot more of them. So I wouldn’t use the failure of a bunch of teams and leagues to condemn the closed franchise system without actually taking into account all of the reasons those teams and leagues actually failed. The reasons for failure are often more complex than a single problem.

                As for the quality of play, a lot of that comes down to two major factors:
                1. Lack of league reputation.
                2. Lack of money to attract big names.

                The first is something that will have to be worked on over time. But as for the second, what would you do? Lift the salary caps and introduce true free agency to attract foreign stars stateside? You don’t think that’s going to have really disruptive consequences across domestic soccer? Maybe you think that it’d be nice for Manchester City and LA Galaxy to dominate soccer in the USA with their bottomless pockets, but I really don’t think anyone else would honestly enjoy that despite the fact that they would probably buy teams that play beautiful soccer.

                The truth is, no matter what system you choose, the little guy is more likely to get snuffed out than not. That’s just the unfortunate reality of business. It’d be nice to pretend that every soccer team that’s created in this country can find a place to exist on some level and in some fashion, but that’s just not realistic in a business sense.

                The big four work and succeed precisely because of the tight controls on the leagues that can be imposed by the franchise system. You can’t just create a baseball team even if you’re a multi billionaire and expect to join the MLB on the merit of your team’s talent performance. MLS is continuing to grow and seems to be proving that the same type of system works just fine. It’s a damned shame that some smaller teams will get squashed on the road to success, but that’s the way business works. And yes, that’s what sports is in the end-business.

                • Jin Old-Boy

                  But those are not global leagues. MLS clubs have continent tournament, world club tournament, and is connected with the rest of the world through FIFA. MLS work under the USSF, USSF works under CONCACAF and CONCACAF works under FIFA. American soccer keep failing because the USSF keep copying off of other sports that runs differently. Our first soccer league under the USSF was controled by baseball club owners that wanted to used the sport to have teams play in the stadiums when baseball season is over. The 1960s-80s NASL and MLS are controled heavily by the NFL and MLB club owners. You can tell what I am getting at by now. Our leagues fail because it lack the presence of someone who now and have passion for soccer running it.

              • Jin Old-Boy

                Yep. That’s why I am not jumping up and down like a lot of MLS fans. This country had more than one first division league in it’s history that closed itself off to the lower divisions and grew popular, but made major mistakes that ended them. MLS is no better. They could end because of over expansion. MLS is playing with fire by planning on going over 24 clubs and going against FIFA’s league guidlines. It makes you wonder on why the USSF would start a league or even run soccer if they are against the global model of the sport. I even wonder why MLS club owners even bother owning a team if they have a problem bidding against each other for players and hate seeing a club with better quality up stage them for glory. Despite MLS’s popularity, we could soon see the downward spiral by 2017 when more teams join.

                Currently, it seems that Garber is have second thoughts about the weaker teams holding back the stronger teams for forced parity. We are seeing our richer teams get better players over the lesser rich and cheap. That could stir anger within the lesser rich and cheap owners because they paid millions to own a team that can become a playoff club by not trying much.

  • JG

    Great article, as someone that use to live in Rochester and go to a few games I always had questions about the stadium and why they’re not in the MLS. Great read, good job.

    And Go Red Bulls!

  • Great article! Nice to get the full history.

  • Anonymous

    That was just depressing… Enlightening, but depressing nonetheless.

  • Anthony J. Merced

    As a side note this year’s Rochester Rhinos are one of the best teams in all of the lower divisions. 17 games, no losses and 6 goals allowed. All of their games are streamed on YouTube so give them a watch and if you don’t have a team to support, why not them?

  • mike q

    cool, I’m sure the Rhinos are better than the cosmos, especially since USL went 7-0 vs nasl teams. They probably get more fans than show up at the long island lacrosse field too.

    • OpenCupFan

      Rhinos fans have reported that their attendance is widely exaggerated in recent years.
      .
      Also, Cosmos beat defending USL champ earlier this year, do some research before you open your mouth about the mighty mighty Cosmos – Champs of NY 2015!

    • OD

      i just vomited after reading this comment.

  • Anonymous

    The concessions… Do they serve artisanal toast and/or tofu? Also- Organic? That’s vital.

  • OpenCupFan

    Lack of pro / rel is dis kill this team – heard that too many times, it is depressing.
    .
    They had the money to run a successful team, but they ran into trouble trying to meet arbitrary mls requirements, that’s what happened – clear as day.
    .
    Support your local independent soccer club!

    • Ryan Brister

      They ran into trouble building a stadium of their own. Nothing arbitrary about that.

      • OpenCupFan

        Yes, the stadium was not well executed, but did they take that on unilaterally? It appeared from your article they needed the stadium for mls entry, in whatever form. Is that not true?

        • Ryan Brister

          MLS did want a stadium (and a larger one than was actually built), but so did the Rhinos. Playing in a baseball stadium meant they were second choice for dates of when they could hold matches, and they didn’t get revenues from sponsors or concessions. Donner told me they had difficulty selling season ticket packages (despite good ticket sales overall) because there simply weren’t that many good seats. The surface at Frontier Field was struggling to hold up through the number of events, and the baseball team requested that they not play in the rain.

          There’s a reason why, even with MLS secured, teams have opted to build venues of their own.

          • OpenCupFan

            I get that, that’s the situation the Cosmos (and many others) are in, but the issue remains that without mls pressure – actual or perceived – would they have still made the same poor decisions related to the stadium location, etc. The Rowdies were also in this position, but acted more thoughtfully – yes Rowdies may have wealthier financial backing, but they have nonetheless been more responsible. Arguably, you could say the same about the Strikers – clearly they all want better stadium situations, but would the Rhinos have been as “motivated” to jump at this opportunity if there wasn’t pressure to be mls ready – pressure that wouldn’t be there in pro/rel environment.
            .
            You certainly know more than I do, and I actually really appreciate this article because it is a thoughtful and concise explanation of a situation that many of us are unaware of – the story has been out there for a while, but this is the first time details were fleshed out. Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      But what’s the alternative? Do you seriously expect any business person (or group of business people) to invest tremendous capital in a brand and a league and just create a situation where they might get kicked out (and get no return) and some random guy that invested in nothing but his own team come in and reap the rewards from the brand that they built up?

      I don’t really think it’s unfair for MLS and its owners collectively to expect clubs that want to join to pony up capital and share in the risks/rewards if they want to join the brand after everyone else put work into growing it. After all, it’s not like any of this came about for free.

      Besides, if independent clubs and pro/rel actually works, nobody is stopping clubs from banding together (like NASL) and creating their own league for it. Just because MLS claims to be first division doesn’t necessarily make it so. If another league proves to put out a better product consistently, the American soccer landscape will follow suit. Thus far, this hasn’t been the case, but it’s still early yet.

      Whatever the case, as far as MLS is concerned, given the level of investment that the owners have put in to growing the brand, I don’t see promotion/relegation coming anytime in the foreseeable future…

      • Anonymous

        Also, as far as the stadium thing is concerned, I don’t see that as an unreasonable requirement. If you’re trying to build a brand, building an image and protecting it is a major part of that. If you’re going to say that you’re a professional team, you should have a proper venue.

        There are, of course, exceptions to the rule here. Many will point out NYCFC playing in a baseball stadium and let’s be honest. They only get away with it because:
        A) It’s Yankee Stadium, which is a big named venue.
        B) The team is owned by City Football Group with its direct association to a major Premier League team.

        • OpenCupFan

          This is hypocrisy. Keep that in mind.
          .
          mls says one thing but does the opposite so much that it is just common business for them. You cannot have legitimate competition in this environment – remember also this is the same league that traded Landon Donovan for nothing, good business decision – maybe, but it was anti competitive and screwed over SanJose fan base. The sad thing is Americans are used to this sort of behavior from the franchise leagues and accept it. Any, this is just one example of many.

          • Anonymous

            Of course it’s hypocrisy. I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that it’s not. But MLS is a private entity and as such, it gets to change the rules when and how it wants if it believes that it serves its ultimate benefit.

            Nobody is arguing that the system is fair. It’s absolutely rigged. But I think you might be confusing the issue by arguing that the MLS should be making decisions for the benefit of soccer as an ideal. We need to be clear that MLS makes decisions based on one thing and one thing only–its own best interests. MLS exists to make money for its owners. Just like the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. It’s not some sort of public service for the betterment of soccer in the USA.

            That having been said, it’s clearly the most successful soccer league in the country to date (you can argue the precise reasons for that) and even if it’s only incidental, its success and growth has translated to better development for our youth and a higher quality of domestic product on the field than existed when it first started. It’s basically capitalism at work in that the MLS’s interests as a business align with the interests of domestic soccer at this point in that both are looking to refine the product–albeit for different reasons.

            • OpenCupFan

              You’re wrong about player development, just look at the usmnt.
              .
              Also, those other leagues don’t have a governing body to deal with.

              • Anonymous

                Of course the other leagues have governing bodies. Who do you think fines players and teams? The governing body is the owners themselves along with the commissioner, just like the MLS.

      • OpenCupFan

        The problem is that it isn’t up to mls to make this decision, it is for USSF. And USSF is giving mls an unfair advantage by giving it exclusive sanctioning.

        • Anonymous

          LOL! What do you mean it’s not up to MLS to make this decision? It’s absolutely up to MLS to make the decision as to who they want to allow in their private league. If I invest my money to create a club, it’s completely my choice to decide who I want to extend invitations to and who I don’t and on what criteria I extend those invitations. After all, it’s my club and my money. The same thing applies.

          And we both know that the USSF is a joke.

          • OpenCupFan

            That joke is what allows mls to make those demands.

            • Anonymous

              So do tell me, how exactly can the USSF muscle the MLS into doing anything?

        • Anonymous

          The USSF has no choice but to support MLS because it’s the most successful and most influential league in the country at the moment. MLS holds all the cards. What actual power does the USSF have over the MLS? If the MLS told the USSF to **** off today, what would the USSF realistically do? Tell them that they’re not allowed to run a business and play soccer anymore?

          • OpenCupFan

            USSF is supporting mls to the detriment of every other soccer club in the country. If you don’t care then fine, but don’t make it out like it is an inevitability. It isn’t.

            • Anonymous

              USSF is irrelevant. They’re an extension of a non-profit with absolutely no meaningful governing power whatsoever. MLS is a private business. Even if the USSF stopped supporting MLS at this point, it would mean absolutely nothing.

              You talk like the USSF is somehow enabling MLS to do things. I can assure you that they can’t enable or disable the MLS from doing anything. They have literally nothing to leverage over the league as a private business entity.

              • OpenCupFan

                You’re completely wrong – look into the SI article about Yedlin and Crossfire, USSF is allowing mls to keep payments meant for youth academies.
                interested how that thing is resolved.

                • Anonymous

                  Even if the USSF ordered the MLS to pay the youth academies, what actual power does it have to enforce that? That’s the heart of my question.

                  The answer is: NONE

                  • OpenCupFan

                    I don’t think you understand how national soccer federations work, they have all the power.

  • OpenCupFan

    Also, when mentioning business necessity, don’t forget that mls has been withholding payments to small kids academies for years.
    .
    Why is it that mls’ financial concerns are the only ones in Am. soccer that are being defended? This is a legitimate question, USSF does everything it can to protect mls financially but nothing for the other leagues or academies – nothing.

    • Anonymous

      See above: MLS only cares about itself and USSF is a joke.

    • Anonymous

      And no offense, but me thinks that you might be being a bit too idealistic here. If you’re pragmatic about the whole thing, you realize that it all makes complete sense (in its own cynical way) and it’s pretty unrealistic to expect otherwise in the given environment.

      • OpenCupFan

        I’m idealistic – but the thing is that mls is not nfl. We’re not talking about changing nfl, we’re talking about mls – closer to the rhinos than the 49ers. And in fact, don’t even change mls, let it be, just stop USSFs protection of it.

        • Anonymous

          What protection is this an how is it at all meaningful? I think you’re really misjudging the power dynamic here.

          • OpenCupFan

            No, I get it. But it can change, especially if people stop accepting it. Again, this isn’t the other leagues with no one to answer to, soccer here has to Answer to USSF and even though you’re saying mls controls USSF it doesn’t seem to be complete control yet – my only reason for thinking this is that Klinsman hasn’t been fired yet. Crossing my fingers for a miracle.

            • Anonymous

              MLS has no need to answer to anyone other than the MLS and its fans. That’s the major part here that you’re not getting. You’re thinking of the USSF as somehow connected to the MLS as a governing body. It’s an entirely separate entity that has absolutely no connection or power over the MLS’s operations. It’s not that the MLS controls USSF. It’s that the USSF has no control over the MLS and because of the MLS’s current status, all it can really do is just go along with it.

              • OpenCupFan

                You are completely wrong. There are many things USSF can do from little things to “appropriating asset.”
                .
                Look into the power of the federation, domestic leagues are not beyond the authority of their national federations – you are misinformed.

  • Andrew

    This was a sad, but good read. Would love to see similar stories here on EOS!

  • mike q

    The USSF rightly supports MLS because the league IS the future of US soccer.

    Where else will future National US players be developed? Where else is there growth on that scale in grassroots support for soccer/fandom/interest and local academy development? Where else will national team players ply their trade and keep their skills sharp in a club setting if not in Europe? Where else will college or unheralded players try to play their way into the national team setup?

    it sure won’t be in the nasl which was 0-7 vs the USL.
    Support your local MLS club to support the future of US Soccer!

    • Anthony J. Merced

      I don’t believe you have to support any league. As a fan you just root for the team of your preference. I don’t want the NASL, USL or MLS to go under and I don’t think any fan should wish their demise either. It’s your choice on what team you support.

    • Jin Old-Boy

      Only in America, you will have soccer fans saying they are fans of American soccer, but say people should abandon the lower divisions. Let me give you some information. The lower divisions play a big role in developing talent before they are discovered by MLS. The lower division also help out students enrolled in the NCAA sharpen their skills. The lower divisions also have the longest standing youth development that actual created players like Dempsey. MLS is the only league in the world that don’t want to pay the lower division clubs for the hard work they put into developing players they buy from them like how other FIFA league organization do things. Even the USSF help MLS on teaming up against those club so MLS want pay them for a player they developed. Instead they get no credit and MLS takes all the credit. What a corrupt league and you are a horrible so-called fan. That is our lower division. Under appreciated, not much cared for, but very reliable to the futurr of our sport.

      For a so-called American soccer fan to wish ill will against them is sickening.

      • slowleftarm

        Yet when you bash MLS it’s not sickening?

  • SuddenImpact

    Many thanks Ryan Brister for an excellent read! As an Impact fan (much less so since joining MLS) Rochester has broken my heart more times than I care to remember. But maybe since the losses stay with you longer than the wins do, even now I can’t forget them. For those who don’t go back to the old A-League days (the real A-League and the USL version too), Rochester/Montreal was once the soccer facsimile of Yankees/Red Sox. Ehhh, to me at least! And there’s no doubt that early on Rochester took the Pinstripes’ role.

    My first memory goes back to the fall of 1996. It was a Saturday night and I stumbled home (well, my parent’s apartment) late after an incredible date with a chick who was way out of my league. I couldn’t have been happier. Then I put on the TV before going to bed and saw that SportsChannel was re-airing the series deciding semifinals matchup between the Rhinos and Impact. I didn’t have the internet or a cell so for me it was all live even if the game had kicked off during sunlight hours.

    Montreal had a bunch of Canadian (back when Canada was still somewhat decent) and Jamaican internationals and was easily the best team in the league that year. I remember the announcers saying they had the talent and payroll to match most MLS teams. Otoh, Rochester was a mediocre expansion club that scored a lot but got scored on a lot too. Well, early on I didn’t see any offense coming from the visitors as Montreal went into the half up 1-0. The Impact dominated the 2nd half as well but couldn’t put in that goal to put it away.

    Then like a light switch Rochester opened things up, scored twice in the final 10 minutes and ended Montreal’s year. Just like that, an incredible season was over. That friggin loss kept me up til the wee hours of the morning!!! I had to wait two years for a rematch (by then SportsChannel was gone so I listened from the desktop in the bedroom of my very first apartment) and Rochester took that one as well. They then knocked us out of the 2003 playoffs as well for good measure. Back then Montreal’s website would keep the score of their last game on the upper left hand corner of their front page, so for 6 months, every time I checked the website, there was that ugly reminder of the season ending loss (really it was a tie but Montreal needed to win by 2 goals to advance) against Rochester.

    Finally in 2004 Montreal returned the favor en route to winning the league title. The teams never met in the playoffs again and from that point on we dominated regular season match ups. For me the series died for good in 2008. Montreal had gotten past TFC to win the Voyageurs Cup and start their run into the Concacaf Champion’s League. Rochester was struggling to stay afloat financially. On the field they were still pretty good but by then it was obvious the organizations were headed in opposite directions. Too bad. Aside from the Champions’ League, no Montreal games have ever excited me as much as the ones against those effing Raging Rhinos.

    Anyway, sad article to read but thanks for bringing back so many memories. For all the jealous hate I had for the green-black and yellow squad, I hope they bounce back some day soon. Hopefully in the NASL, where they shoulda been a founding member to begin with!

  • mickey f

    Agree that as a soccer fan I don’t wish any league to go under. But for me I am a big US Soccer fan and I know that the future of US Soccer is through MLS – for player growth, marketing, revenue, technical improvement, etc. so I guess I am an overall MLS fan.

    I also believe if anyone supports US Soccer they should also support MLS as a whole (I know they are still not in all markets), and if you support a lower level team instead of MLS that is counterproductive, guess people can theoretically support both though in the same market, but I believe our dollars and suppor tshould go to the MLS teams to help raise money so players will be paid more in the next CBA, again improving US soccer overall and the level of play.

    • OpenCupFan

      CBA is anti free market.

      • slowleftarm

        Hilarious to hear this crybaby whine about MLS 24/7.

    • Jin Old-Boy

      So we should abandon our lower divisions after all they have done for American soccer’s growth? Really. Thisis the second stupid comment that said this. Without our lower divisions, MLS would not discover most of the national team players. Even Dempsey was trained in the lower division in Texas before joining MLS. Dempsey even credit his Texas club. A lower division club is also responsible for Donovan before hr signed for a top German team. That was not MLS. MLS just now started focusing on player development while the lower divisions and the NCAA did all the work way before MLS was even thought of. Even when MLS was thought of, they still did not develop no a player from the ground up. Yedlin was already trained before joining Seattle before you say anything and it was stated as so.

      What the hell is wrong with some soccer fans?

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  • mickey f

    Dempsey and Yedlin played at youth clubs and college that developed them, these were not lower division pro teams like nasl or USL, that’s what I am referring to.

    The main pro elite player development for the US will absolutely be in the MLS and at MLS clubs, so support your local MLS team! I support youth clubs, ncaa, etc. but giving money to lower division teams like the cosmos when you have an MLS alternative it throwing money away – what future US star will the cosmos develop – no one.

    The REd Bulls had Altidore, Bradley, Ream, etc. and now have Miazga, Davis, Lade and more to come!… Go support them!

  • Len

    Rochester Rhinos and USL are Third Tier/Third Division not second.

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