Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Rochester Rhinos (USA)

The Rhinos are among the longest standing American football sides, having formed as the slightly sillier sounding Rochester Rampaging Rhinos in the distant mists of 1996 - practically a lifetime for a football team on that side of the pond. They're based in the city of Rochester - also known as The Flour City - on the Western Edge of New York State. Their home town, nestling on the shores of Lake Ontario, was ranked the sixth most desirable city to live in across the whole of the US.

Based at the 13,768 capacity Marina Auto Stadium in the centre of the city, the Rhinos currently play in the USSF D2 Pro League, in the second tier of the American game. However, this league is onely a temporary, one-season arrangement, after a bust up between the fueding United Soccer Leagues, and the North American Soccer League, so it is not yet known quite what format football outside of the MLS will take next term.

They were orginally a member of the A-League, which was the highest level of their national game until the MLS came along. Indeed, they've been considered for the top flight on a number of occasions, although their ground is still considered too small to take the step up.

Under the pre-MLS league system they were the league winners three times, in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and are also the only team from outside the MLS to have won the US Open Cup, back in 1999. They got into financial difficulties in 2008 though, when the City of Rochester siezed their ground, and were only saved when businessman Rob Clark bought the club - thankfully insisting that the Rampaging bit was removed from their name.

Notable former players include Onandi Lowe, the free-scoring Jamaican international who also put in a long stint with Rushden and Diamonds, one-time Celtic, Leicester and Port Vale striker Steve Guppy, legendary Canadian keeper Pat Onstad and South African midfielder Lenin Steenkamp, who put in a massive ten year spell with the club.

Their main supporters group call themselves the Rochester Stampede, and delight in chucking green and yellow streamers every time their team score, or whenever the opposition get a corner. Better make sure Manchester United don't play them in a friendly then, or there could be hell to pay!


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