Rochester Rhinos

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Rochester Rhinos
Founded 1996 (1996)
Stadium Sahlen's Stadium
Rochester, New York
Ground Capacity 13,768
Owner United Soccer League[1][2]
Head Coach Bob Lilley
League USL
2015 1st, USL Regular Season
Playoffs: USL Champions
Website Club home page
Current season
The team's logo used from 1996–2007

The Rochester Rhinos are an American professional soccer team based in Rochester, New York, United States. Founded in 1996, the team plays in the United Soccer League, the third tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, having self-relegated from the USSF D2 Pro League at the end of the 2010 season.

The team plays its home games at Sahlen's Stadium, formerly known as PAETEC Park, where they have played since 2006. The team's colors are black, white and green. The team is coached by veteran head coach Bob Lilley.

The club has been known at times as the Rochester Raging Rhinos.


The team was founded in 1996 and played in the now-defunct original A-League until it merged with the USISL for the 1997 season, creating the new A-League. The A-League was renamed the USL First Division in 2005. In 2006 the Rhinos moved into the newly completed PAETEC Park, a 13,768-seat soccer-specific stadium. Construction at the stadium is ongoing and will, once completed, boost the capacity to approximately 20,000 seats.

The Rhinos have prided themselves on upholding a high level of play over their 20 year history. The team made the playoffs every season until 2013. They reached the championship game seven times (1996, 1998–2001, 2006, 2015). The Rhinos have been league champions four times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2016). They also won the 1999 U.S. Open Cup, becoming the only non-Major League Soccer team to win the cup since MLS began play in 1996.[3] The Rhinos hold a record of 10–15 versus MLS teams in the U.S Open Cup.[4]

The Rhinos were considered a candidate to be an expansion team at the MLS level when PAETEC Park was in the planning stages.[5]

The team was declared insolvent in 2008 after defaulting on their stadium agreement, and PAETEC Park was seized by the city of Rochester.[6] After a brief search for a new owner and investor who could improve the team's financial outlook, in March, 2008, the Rhinos official website announced that the Rhinos had found both in Utica businessman Rob Clark. The new owner then announced that the team will now be known as the "Rochester Rhinos," and that the financial situation of the team no longer put them in any danger of not being able to afford the upcoming season.[7]

After two seasons under owner Rob Clark, on November 30, 2009, the club announced they would be joining the new NASL for its 2010 season.[8] The United States Soccer Federation refused the NASL's application for sanctioning, and instead operated its own temporary second-division league for 2010. The Rhinos were part of that temporary USSF Second Division league.[9] The Rhinos switched leagues again before the 2011 season to the third-division USL Pro league, who consider themselves equally competitive with the second-division NASL.

The 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons saw many players come and go from the Rhinos roster, which is a change from their earlier history during the 1990s and early 2000s when players such as Lenin Steenkamp (9 years) and Doug Miller (8 years) stayed for many years. Nathaniel Short, Ryan Heins, and Isaac Kissi were with the team in 2009 and 2010, but of the three only Isaac Kissi was back in 2011.

The 2011 season ended with the Rhinos first in their division followed by a playoff season that lasted 2 games. The Rhinos saw off the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 4–0 in first round of the playoffs and then lost 2–1 at home to the Harrisburg City Islanders to finish the season.

On September 15, 2011, the official Rhinos website announced that head coach Bob Lilley would not be returning for the 2012 season.[10] On October 12 Jesse Myers, most recently an assistant coach of the Richmond Kickers, was named as the new head coach of the Rhinos.[11]

On January 28, 2013, it was announced that the Rhinos would serve as the official USL Pro affiliate of the New England Revolution.[12] Following a 1–6–1 start to the season, on May 19 Myers was dismissed and Pat Ercoli named Head Coach for the remainder of the 2013 season. They missed the playoffs for the first time ever, finishing with a 6–10–10 record.[13]

On January 5, 2016, the league announced that it had revoked the Clark family's ownership of the club, citing the revocation of the lease on Sahlen's Stadium by the City of Rochester. The league took over operations of the club until it could be sold to a new ownership group. [14]


Club culture


The Rhinos have been covered in the Rochester-based Democrat and Chronicle newspaper since their founding by reporter Jeff Diveronica.


The Oak Street Brigade is the official supporters group of the Rhinos. Occupying section 101 at Sahlen's Stadium, the Brigade stands and sings for 90 minutes every game and usually 30 minutes before and after. Best known for their "1 ton bass drum" and a flurry of streamers and smoke bombs following every Rhinos goal. The Brigade is a diverse group and all are welcome to join under 3 conditions. Routing for Rochester is essential, standing is a must, and having the time of your life is a given. Their biggest rivals are the montreal ultras and Pittsburgh. The name Oak Street Brigade refers to the address of Sahlen's Stadium.

Players and staff

Current roster

as of March 24, 2015[15]

No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Grinwis, AdamAdam Grinwis      United States
2 Midfielder Ugarte, MarcosMarcos Ugarte      United States
4 Defender Totsch, SeanSean Totsch      United States
5 Defender Apostolopoulos, VassiliosVassilios Apostolopoulos      Greece
6 Midfielder Silva, ChristianChristian Silva      United States
7 Defender Obasi, Onua ThomasOnua Thomas Obasi      England
8 Forward Volesky, ChristianChristian Volesky      United States
10 Forward Duba, Duba      Cape Verde
12 Forward Samuels, AsaniAsani Samuels      Jamaica
13 Midfielder Garzi, MikeMike Garzi      United States
16 Defender Ruggles, DrewDrew Ruggles      United States
18 Defender Van De Casteele, GrantGrant Van De Casteele      United States
20 Defender Walls, TonyTony Walls      United States
21 Midfielder Forbes, KenardoKenardo Forbes      Jamaica
22 Defender Ringhof, JulianJulian Ringhof      Germany


Notable former players

Rochester Rhinos Hall of Fame

Retired numbers

Head coaches


  • United Soccer League
  • USL Championship
    • Winners : 2015
  • USL Regular Season
    • Winners: 2015
  • USL Eastern Conference (Playoffs)
    • Winners: 2015
  • USL Eastern Conference (Regular Season)
    • Winners: 2015
  • USSF Division 2 Professional League [18]
    • Regular Season Champions (1): 2010
    • Champions, USL Conference (1): 2010
  • USL A-League
    • Winners (3): 1998, 2000, 2001
    • Northeast Division Champions (3): 1998, 1999, 2002



The Rhinos (black/white/yellow) vs. the Carolina Railhawks (orange) on July 6, 2007.
Year Division League Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup Avg. Attendance
1996 2 A-League 4th Final Final 9,991
1997 2 USISL A-League 2nd, Northeast Division Semifinals Round of 16 10,677
1998 2 USISL A-League 1st, Northeast Champion 3rd Round 11,499
1999 2 USL A-League 1st, Northeast Final Champion 11,551
2000 2 USL A-League 2nd, Northeast Champion 3rd Round 11,628
2001 2 USL A-League 2nd, Northern Champion 2nd Round 10,789
2002 2 USL A-League 1st, Northeast Conference Finals 3rd Round 10,008
2003 2 USL A-League 2nd, Northeast Conference Finals 4th Round 10,169
2004 2 USL A-League 4th, Eastern Quarterfinals Quarterfinals 10,200
2005 2 USL First Division 2nd Semifinals Quarterfinals 9,791
2006 2 USL First Division 2nd Final 4th Round 10,110
2007 2 USL First Division 5th Quarterfinals 3rd Round 9,705
2008 2 USL First Division 4th Semifinals 3rd Round 8,243
2009 2 USL First Division 6th Quarterfinals Semifinals 6,888
2010 2 USSF Division 2 Professional League 1st, USL Quarterfinals 3rd Round 6,464
2011 3 USL Pro 1st, National Division Finals 3rd Round 5,339
2012 3 USL Pro 2nd Semifinals 3rd Round 6,233
2013 3 USL Pro 11th Did not qualify 3rd Round 5,876
2014 3 USL Pro 6th Quarterfinals 5th Round 5,972
2015 3 USL 1st, Eastern Champion 4th Round 5,599


  1. DiVeronica, Jeff (January 5, 2016). "Clark out as Rhinos owner; USL takes control of team". Democrat & Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Retrieved January 5, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "USL Terminates Rochester Ownership Group". United Soccer League (USL). January 5, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The legend of the Rochester Raging Rhinos, the last underdog to win the US Open Cup
  4. [1]
  5. [2]. Sports Illustrated.
  6. City Says It Will Seize PAETEC Park, Citing Default. WYSL.
  7. Utica businessman buys Rhinos; 2008 season a go. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
  9. "Club Listing". USSF Division-2 Pro League.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Lilley Decides not to Return".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Rhinos Name Myers Head Coach".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Rhinos, Revolution Form Partnership". Rochester Rhinos. January 28, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Ercoli Returns to Coach Rochester Rhinos". May 19, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. DiVeronica, Jeff (January 6, 2016). "Clark out as Rhinos owner; USL takes control of team". Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved January 9, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Sources: Rhinos will name Tilley head coach
  18. "Division-2 Schedule and Results". USSF Division-2 Pro League.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links