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TFC II Look to Make Home Opener Memorable

TFC II is finally returning home after eight games on the road, winning only twice. Can a rematch against the Rochester Rhinos turn out differently for the young Reds?

Luke Galati

The last time TFC II faced off against the Rochester Rhinos, it was finished by a stoppage time header to hand the young Reds a 1-0 loss on the road.  Two weeks have gone by and TFC II have played three games, while the first place Rhinos are still on top of the league and have only played once.  TFC II did earn a victory before their thrashing defeat from Louisville City FC last Saturday, but that is the past, and this young Reds team is all about focusing on the next challenge.

Rochester Rhinos

Since the Rhinos and TFC II last played each other, Rochester tied former Toronto FC affiliate the Wilmington Hammerheads 1-1 in league play, and then defeated Greater Binghamton FC in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup 3-0.

Not much has changed for the Rhinos in terms of record and stats. The team is still unbeaten and alone on top of the East. The team still has a league low of four goals, which does tie Louisville City, as well the Rhinos are in the top 10 in goals scored with 13.

Players like Christian Volesky, Jonny Mendoza and Duba are all players TFC II have to be aware of. As for second leading scorer Alex Dixon, he did make an brief appearance in their tie with the Hammerheads, but is still trying to regroup from an injury.

As for their keeper Brandon Miller, he sits second in the league with three shutouts and a goals against average of 0.46.

The Rhinos may be the best team in the East with a 6-0-3 record, but they have only scored 13 goals. Teams like Charleston, Pittsburgh, Richmond and Louisville all have more goals scored, but it is the tall defence that the Rhinos have that can really cause problems for its opposition.

Toronto FC II

For the young Reds, the game plan is simple. Don't fall behind quick, and don't repeat what happened the last time they faced the Rhinos.

A lack of concentration played a part in the game winning header from Duba in extra time, which is normal for young players to go through. Head coach Jason Bent is keen to fix that problem for his side.

TFC has been plagued by giving up quick goals and not being able to stop them from coming, playing themselves out of the game and losing by large margins. This is normal for such a young team, but this team is not giving excuses.  Each player on the team knows that to win a game after a defeat, they have to forget what happened before.

TFC II will be without striker Jordan Hamilton, who is with the first team as Jozy Altidore is out for a month. Expect players like Mo Babouli, Mark Anthony Kaye, Chris Mannella, Wesley Charpie and Skylar Thomas to be a part of the game. Others like Massimo Mirabelli and Luca Uccello have surprised many with talented plays and skill.

Alex Bono is expected to get the start, as Quillan Roberts is still with the first team while Joe Bendik recovers from a foot injury. Bono sits ninth in the league with total saves (20) throughout his six games.

Prediction

Last week I said TFC II would win against Louisville, and I'm sorry if anyone betting on that game listened to me. I still think TFC II can be a strong contender in the East and know they want to win. Last time out, many people suggested TFC II would lose in Rochester, and even though that is what happened they only lost 1-0 and played solid defence.

Today, I think the crowd will be able to pump up the team and the young Reds will return the favour.  I say TFC II wins this game by a narrow margin or at worst they tie the Rhinos. I think TFC II can continue what they did last time against the Rhinos and understand their style.