ALSO ON SLAM!
Saturday, July 22, 2000
Lynx hang on for tie with RochesterTORONTO (CP) -- The Toronto Lynx, their battered backline taking another beating, hung on for a 0-0 draw with the Rochester Raging Rhinos in A-League soccer action Saturday night.
The tie preserved Rochester's eight-point lead over Toronto atop the Northeast Division.
Toronto (8-3-4), already hurting on defence going into the game, was reduced to a back three of two midfielders playing out of position and a second-string defender in the second half after Marco Reda (quad muscle) and Mauricio Vincello (flu) left the game early.
The Lynx defence bent but didn't break in the second half, although the Rhinos came on in waves. Rochester (10-5-2) could have won 5-0 but misfired again and again in the second half.
Twenty minutes of sudden-death overtime didn't resolve anything, with a John Ball goal for Rochester negated for offside.
Substitute Steve Butcher came close to deciding the game in the 76th minute with a header that almost dribbled in after the initial stop by Toronto goalie Theo Zagar. Rochester's Ball hammered another easy chance over the bar with seven minutes remaining.
Eddy Sebrango squandered another Rochester opportunity in the dying minutes of regulation time, sending the ball wide.
The game drew 3,281 to Varsity Stadium on a pleasant evening dubbed Fiesta Latina Night, with the Lynxster mascot joining a display of Ecuadorean dancing prior to kickoff. He didn't look out of place.
There was less action on the field in the first half. Rochester outshot Toronto 4-1 but the lone legitimate scoring chance came in the 43rd minute when Sebrango, on the turn, raked the ball just outside the Toronto post past a beaten Zagar.
In the 51st minute, Rochester's Jimmy Glenn was wide again after a nice set-up by Sebrango. Glenn had an open goal after Sebrango beat Marco Reda and unselfishly passed the ball back to the onrushing Glenn.
Scott Vallow finally had to stir in the Rochester goal in the 74th minute when he stopped Francisco Dos Santos at close range.
The Rhinos were without Canadian international Martin Nash and Jamaican Onandi Lowe, both of whom are with their national teams for World Cup qualifying games. Vallow started in goal again in place of the injured Bill Andracki.
Rochester does not lose anything with Vallow in goal, however. Going into Saturday's game, Andracki and Vallow ranked Nos. 2 and 3 in the league with goals-against averages of 0.61 and 0.63, respectively. Toronto's Zagar was fourth at 0.68.
It was Zagar's sixth shutout in 15 games and the fifth in nine games for Vallow.
Toronto played without injured defender Milan Kojic (hamstring) but the backline was bolstered temporarily by the return of Reda and Vincello. Midfielder Lloyd Barker sat out a one-game suspension for accumulation of yellow cards.
Vincello lasted just one half, however, before being substituted. Twelve minutes later, Reda came off as well.
The two teams have been going in different directions of late. The Rhinos had won three straight, including an exhibition win over Stade Rennais of France, after a 1-2-1 mini-slump.
Toronto came into the game on a 2-3-1 run after starting the season 6-0-1. The Lynx open a five-game road trip in Long Island on Wednesday.
Rochester plays in Montreal on Sunday.
Notes: Rochester defender Mike Kirmse drew oohs from the crowd for his unique style of throw-in. Kirmse performs a running front somersault before hurling the ball in. ... The anthem singer drew a different kind of look for a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that included the phrase "the twee-light's last gleaming."