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D.C. United travels north for a mid-week friendly with the A-League's Rochester Raging Rhinos. United currently sits second in the Eastern Conference, tied with the MetroStars on 16 points. They jumped over Columbus in the standings with a 3-1 victory on Saturday. Rochester is currently in first place in the A-League's Eastern Conference, riding a three-game winning streak in league play. This is the first time the teams have met in Rochester. Both previous matches between the clubs have seen the Rhinos travel to the nation's capital, each time leaving vanquished.
REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda
SAR (bench): Mikael Lundqvist
JAR (opposite): Kevin Barci
4th: Vladimir Fabre
OUT: F Santino Quaranta (adductor surgery), F Thiago Martins (L lateral meniscus tear), F Eliseo Quintanilla (R fractured fibula); PROBABLE: D Ryan Nelsen (groin strain)
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): United 2 wins, 6 goals. Rhinos 0 wins, 0 goals
AT FRONTIER FIELD: First Meeting
This is only the third meeting between the clubs lifetime. Both times, United have come out ahead, capturing the 1996 U.S. Open Cup and advancing in the 2000 U.S. Open Cup. This game is Peter Nowak's first as head coach against Rochester. United will certainly be the better rested of the clubs, as Rochester just returned from a two-game (Thursday and Saturday) west coast swing.
A goal by Jaime Moreno and two by Alecko Eskandarian broke United out of a scoreless funk. Moreno's sixth-minute tally ended a four-hour scoreless streak for the Black-and-Red, stretching back to May 29 against New England.
United coach Peter Nowak continued to tinker with his lineup with the absences of Earnie Stewart and Bobby Convey - international duty - and Ryan Nelson - injury. Here is his first 11 (3-5-2): Troy Perkins - Brandon Prideaux, Mike Petke, Bryan Namoff - Josh Gros, Ben Olsen, Brian Carroll, Jaime Moreno, Dema Kovalenko - Ronald Cerritos, Alecko Eskandarian.
Alecko Eskandarian's two-goal outburst was the first multiple-goal game for United on the 2004 season. Paired with his strong play throughout the match, the brace earned Eskandarian honors as the MLS Player of the Week for Week 12.
"A soccer game is two halves, each are important," said Nowak of his team's last game. "We came out tonight and performed. It was great to look up at half time to see that we were ahead by three. I believe that every game we dominate, but tonight we had excellent ball movement. This game is gives us a lot of confidence for the future."
United reached an agreement with Ronald Cerritos to release the 29-year-old forward from his contract. The agreement allows Cerritos to pursue playing opportunities abroad and allows United roster and salary cap room to sign an additional player.
D.C. United is coming off a 3-1 victory against the Columbus Crew. The result saw United leapfrog the Crew into second place in the Eastern Conference. United sit level with the MetroStars on 16 points, trailing the Chicago Fire by one point.
ROCHESTER RAGING RHINOS
Pat Ercoli's side is coming off a pair of west coast wins. They earned the first win in club history against the Seattle Sounders by a 1-0 scoreline on Saturday night, on the strength of a Chris Carrieri strike in the 77th minute. Soren Johnson earned his first shutout of the 2004 season in his second start.
The Rhinos also topped the Portland Timbers in the team's first visit to Oregon. Thursday's match was a 2-1 thriller, with a Kirk Wilson strike nullified by a Sounders' penalty kick with 15 minutes remaining in regulation. Portland netminder Josh Saunders suffered a leg injury, yielding seven minutes of injury time. The Rhinos would only need five minutes of stoppage to come away winners, as Doug Miller notched the game winner, his third tally of the season.
Former Colorado Rapids star Chris Carrieri has made an immediate impact for Rochester in 2004. Carrieri currently leads the side in scoring, with 16 points from five goals and six assists. He also is the A-League assist leader and sits third in the overall scoring table.
Here is the starting 11 for Pat Ercoli's Rhinos against Seattle (4-4-2) - Soren Johnson - Craig Demmin, Carlos Mendes, David Wright, John Wilson - Lenin Steenkamp, Kirk Wilson, Shaun Tsakiris, Ryan Trout - Chris Carrieri, Corey Woolfolk
Rochester will open U.S. Open Cup play in a week's time, hosting the Chicago Fire Reserves (PDL) at Frontier Field on Wednesday, June 30. The match, a third-round tilt, is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kick-off.
The Rochester Raging Rhinos are currently in the midst of a three-game winning streak. Rochester sits atop the A-League Eastern Conference table with 28 points, one point clear of the Montreal Impact and three points clear of the Atlanta Silverbacks.