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Rhinos beat themselves 

Last time out.The Score won an autographed ball in the Perinton Youth Hockey raffle during Friday's 3-2 home overtime loss against Montreal, but that trinket wasn't enough to dissuade us from seriously considering a leap off the Court Street Bridge on the way home. The Rhinos watched a 2-0 lead evaporate with 10 minutes left in regulation, and just like this year's home opener against Atlanta and 2002's US Open Cup debacle against Kansas City, the offending goals came very late in the match after a string of questionable substitutions.

            Poor Craig Demmin had what must have been his most frustrating match as a Rhino, whiffing on two clearances and earning a red card for a professional last-man takedown in the box (it was the right decision --- get off his back). Maybe this stat will make him feel better: Rochester has allowed six goals in the 129 minutes Demmin hasn't graced the pitch so far in 2003 (that's an average of 4.18 goals/match over 90 minutes).

            On Sunday, Demmin notched the game's only goal... into the wrong net as Rochester scored on itself for the second straight match. After neatly dispatching Minnesota and Milwaukee the previous weekend, this Rhinos team has suddenly turned into the frigging Syracuse Salty Dogs.

            Actually, The Score doesn't have too much of a problem with either result from the weekend (aside from how Friday's mess played out). Montreal is a great team, and it sure has Rochester's number. The Impact has beaten Rochester in four straight league matches and enjoys an impressive 8-1-2 record over the last 11. The team's coach, Bob Lilley, knows how to get his players up for big games .

            But that's of little consequence to fans in Rochester, who are used to going years without losing at home yet have seen their team beaten by their oldest (Montreal) and newest (Syracuse) archrivals in the span of one month. The Rhinos have lost two in a row for the first time since August 2001 and plunged to third place in the Can-Am Cup table. Yet, curiously, The Score is alone on the Court Street Bridge.

Next up. More Montreal, and more Eduardo Sebrango, who has five goals against Rochester since being run out of town back in 2000. The two sides battle again this Saturday night at Frontier, only this time the Impact will feature a healthy Martin Nash and Gabe Gervais. Another loss would be devastating, and may find others staring into the Genesee from The Score's favorite bridge. We haven't climbed over the railing yet, so we're calling for a 1-0 Rhinos win. (The Score predicted a 1-0 home win and 1-0 road loss last weekend. Being half-right ain't too bad.)

Where have you gone, Andy Restrepo? Ex-Rhino fossil Rene Rivas finally suited up for Syracuse in its two weekend matches, but his presence did little to alter the outcomes (a loss and a draw, during which the team averaged 6,963 fans). John Ball had the game-winning goal for Milwaukee's 1-0 win over El Paso.

MLS update. John Wolyniec earned a yellow card in his first match back after a league-mandated two-game suspension. Ante Razov and Rhinos 2003 draft pick Damiani Ralph have both scored in each of the Chicago Fire's last three games, and in four of the last five. Pittsford's Jamil Walker saved Pat Onstad's Canadian bacon by getting the game-winning goal in San Jose's win over Columbus.

Around the A-League. Doug Miller is leading the A-League in points (20) and goals (9), which is more than any Rhino had in all of 2002. His closest competitors --- Pittsburgh's Thiago Martins and Syracuse's Gabe Valencia --- have each missed their last couple of matches due to injury.

--- Jon Popick

For The Score's detailed weekly updates on the Rhinos and the A-League, visit Jon's site, Planet Sick-Boy, at www.sick-boy.com.

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