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Rhinos enter tie land 

Last time out. The Lynx are so bad. <"How bad are they?"> They're so bad, they couldn't even draw the Rhinos 2-2 at Frontier . The last time a non-Toronto team failed to score two goals on the road against Rochester was back in June, when the Rhinos shut out Montreal, 2-0. Last Friday, the Lynx (9-3-10, 30 points) shot blanks for 90 minutes while Rochester's Ian Fuller provided the only goal in a 1-0 Rhinos win. Immediately following the match, Toronto dealt top scorer Ali Ngon (6+2-14) to the Montreal Impact, who had been looking for a replacement for injured forward and ex-Rhino Eddy Sebrango. Ngon has already played against Rochester four times in 2003, and now he'll get one more crack at the Rhinos in the regular season, plus probably two more in the playoffs.

            Toronto wasn't the only team dealing its players minutes after facing Rochester (13-5-5, 44). The fabulous Salty Dogs of Syracuse (8-4-10, 28), who used an extra-time goal from Machel Millwood to escape with a 2-2 draw on Sunday, traded midfielder Shaun Tsakiris (0+2=2) to our very own Rhinos right after the match, and then loaned leading scorer Gabe Valencia (9+1=19) to Rochester the following day.

            Syracuse is now officially the 2003 version of the 2002 Charlotte Eagles, both being amazingly crappy teams the Rhinos just couldn't put away. The S-Dogs had just six goals in their last six games (a stretch in which they earned a whopping four points) and three of them came from MLS players on loan to the beleaguered team. Former Rhino Rene Rivas made it two in a row with both a penalty kick goal and a yellow card (his fifth in just 11 starts), leaving Rochester one point behind Montreal and a mere seven ahead of Pittsburgh.

            Doug Miller scored for the first time in five matches, no doubt feeling the heat from A-League late bloomers Dante Washington and Thiago Martins (the three are tied for the league's scoring lead with 15 goals apiece).

            At least fans are getting their money's worth lately. Not counting Toronto (and, really, who is?), that's four straight matches with a goal in extra time to send things into overtime. Remember how exciting that was when Craig Demmin did it against Virginia Beach a few weeks ago? It's, like, totally passé now. The Score's heart can't take much more. Please, please stop.

Next up. The fourth-round US Open Cup match happens the same day this rag hits the street, so we'll focus on this weekend's match on the road in Pittsburgh (11-4-8, 37). Until they were upended at home against Montreal on Sunday night, the R-Hounds were the proud parents of a bouncing baby winning streak over six matches, dating back to the day they named former defender Ricardo Irabarren head coach. A loss to Pittsburgh, who are led by Brazilian striker Thiago Martins (15+3=33), would leave a tiny four-point gap between second and third place in the division. Rochester is 4-1-2 at Bethel Park Stadium, winning 3-1 there earlier this season. The Score says Rhinos 2, R-Hounds 2, just because it's such a popular outcome these days.

            As if that weren't serious enough, the Rhinos travel to Montreal on Wednesday, August 13, for a showdown against the first-place Impact. Rochester possesses a cruddy 1-0-11 mark at the Claude, so The Score is predicting a 1-0 loss for the Rhinos, with the winner coming from Ngon.

Where have you gone, Andy Restrepo? Aleksey Korol netted the GWG in Pittsburgh's 3-2 win over Syracuse on Friday night, and Mike Kirmse was booked with his glorious seventh yellow card of the year. Mauro Biello scored and saw yellow in Montreal's aforementioned whupping of the R-Hounds, while Gary DePalma earned Pittsburgh's fifth majestic red card of the season. The hapless Blast were annihilated, 6-0, by Wave United, and Mali Walton got a yellow card for Indiana.

Around the A-League. The still Dusty Hudock-less Battery drew in Richmond in a battle of teams the Rhinos declined to defeat last weekend. Vancouver's Niall Thompson celebrated his return to action after a six-match suspension by earning --- taah-daah --- a yellow card. Congratulations, Niall --- you're the A-League Thug of the Week!

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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