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Rhinos enter Bizarro World 

Last time out. Who would have dreamt that the Rhinos (12-4-5, 40 points) would get more points during the Charleston-Richmond road trip (3) than they did in the Charleston-Richmond home stand (2)? Anyone with their hands in the air is a filthy liar. Richmond (10-4-7, 34) still seems to have Rochester's number, winning in Virginia and battling for a 2-2 draw here on Friday night.

            Charleston (12-4-5, 40), beaten by the Rhinos 2-1 on the road, didn't bring regular starters Josh Henderson or Fred Degand on their trip up north. They lost to Toronto, and barely escaped with a draw in Rochester, thanks to an extra-time goal by recent Cincinnati castoff Chris Doré. It was like being in Bizarro World, with the Rhinos scoring first and losing a lead in the waning moments of the match (after four home matches in a row where the visitor has scored first, and three in a row where the Rhinos have scored in extra time).

            For those of you keeping score, that's three of the last four home matches that have gone into overtime, and four of the last six. No wonder Lenin Steenkamp looks more like a Civil War casualty than a footie player. The Score loved how the Ghost of Nicky Spooner took care of two Battery players early in the match (Linval Dixon and 2002 Goalkeeper of the Year Dusty Hudock) but is still confused about what it should be watching during breaks in play: the Rhinestones or Bill Sedgewick physically burrowing his way into the very minds of his opponents. The Score still thinks things would be consistently better if Stoian Mladenov played in the middle (how much sense does it make to stick your two best ball winners/handlers/distributors on the wing?) and wants to point out that both of the weekend matches resulted in zero cards for Rhino players. And yes, Fred Commodore's goal against the Battery was the greatest in the history of Frontier.

Next up. Well, there's the Can-Am Cup final in Montreal (13-3-5, 42), which is happening the day this paper hits the streets. The Score expects both coaches to play it safe and rest most regular starters. The Impact doesn't play again until Sunday, so Bob Lilley may be apt to do a bit less resting than Pat Ercoli. Impact 1, Rhinos 0.

            On Friday, the streaky Toronto Lynx (9-3-9, 30), winners of their last three after losing three in a row, visit Frontier in the first half of another weekend of hot Rhinos action. Barring an act of God, this is the last time Rochester and Toronto will play in 2003. The Rhinos are 11-0-2 at home against the Lynx, including the now infamous Fourth of July Massacre (Rochester 6, Toronto 1). Ali Ngon (6+2=14) leads Toronto in scoring, and Theo Zagar is second in saves and has posted six shutouts. The Score bets Barclay scores and gets a yellow card. The Score also bets Rochester wins, 3-1, with Doug Miller netting two.

            On Sunday, Syracuse (8-2-9, 26) rides the Alpo train to Rochester for what should be another match full of bad feelings, bad calls, and bad injuries. The Rhinos are 2-0-1 against the S-Dogs, including Can-Am Cup play. Syracuse's main scoring threat is Gabe Valencia (9+1=19), and their defense is anchored by ex-Rhinos Mike Kirmse and Rene Rivas (but Tommy Tanner still has a boo-boo knee). Paul Nagy's 1.058 GAA is sixth-best in the league (Billy Andracki's is 1.132). The Score likes a 2-1 win for Rochester --- probably in either extra time or overtime.

            Don't forget the fourth round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday, August 6, which pits the Rhinos against the New England Revolution, who just happen to be the worst MLS team at this particular moment. That Twellman kid won't know what hit him after Sedgewick pancakes him a couple of times. Rhinos 3, Revs 2.

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

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