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Two opinions on the Rhinos' U.S. Cup victory.

(Monday, September 20, 1999) -- Opinions on the Rochester Raging Rhinos U.S. Cup victory have flooded our e-mail bag. Here are two differing points of view.

Rhinos were inspiring

Regarding Robert Wagman’s far from inspiring Rhino Cup victory article. I'm sure you'll not be surprised to find someone who disagrees with you. You dwell too much on the technical accomplishments or as you like to over analyze, the lack thereof -- who's really better than whom, what size field this, neural venue that, etc.

For me, this entirely misses the point. And I mean entirely. The point is not how the Rhinos did in any one particular game against whom, but rather the story of sustaining a march through a month’s long ordeal against all apparent common sense and odds. The story was inspiring if the play was arguably not. Arguing that the Rhinos wouldn't have beat those MLS teams on full-sized fields is all the drivel.

There's a story there, an inspiring one at that. Robert, I live in Tucson, host town to a struggling and I mean struggling Professional Development League club, the Amigos. What's in it for me to follow the Open Cup? If the Rhinos weren't "inspiring," then just why did I get so involved in following the Open Cup? NEVER did before, and I learned long ago much to crush my ego that I'm not unique. If I feel some way or like something or want to do something, so do a whole bunch of other folks. I just can't believe I'm alone in this one, either.

It was the Rhinos and what they were doing that drew me to follow the Open Cup. And that makes soccer unique in all of American sport. The only U.S. professional sport going with a season within a season. So even if your team stinks, like Colorado has lately, you still have a chance at something else. Nice idea. Old hat in the old country, but refreshing here.

I am now an Open Cup fan for one reason only, the Rhinos, and that's a good thing for soccer, whether the Rhinos ever get into the MLS or not. Expanding soccer's horizons is NOT merely who is best in the air, who runs the best set plays.. The Open Cup and this year's story are unique. Propose this: ONE game between the Pacific Coast League baseball champion and the World Series champion in a neutral venue. Would Major League Baseball even consider it? No, I didn't think you think they would. End of story.

Bill Cline


Rhinos would struggle in MLS

I would like to interject a few points on the recently bashed MLS in regards to the Rochester Rhinos’ Open Cup win and some subsequent letters published.

First of all, I was happy to see the Rhinos win because maybe the competition will be taken more seriously next year by the MLS. I don't believe the Rhinos are even of the same quality as even the lowly MetroStars. The entire first half against the Rapids the played the bunker defense putting 11 guys behind the ball. Their lone English striker using the long ball approach didn't threaten the Balboa or Vermes, and the Rapids except for poor finishing should have been up by several goals.

The goal Rochester scored was against the run of play and was totally the fault of the keeper (I thought goalkeeper Ian Feuer was better than to get beat short side). Only two players would make a difference in MLS.

The game only proves that Open Cup play is exciting. Look to England. Coventry B team got shelled 5-0 by a third division team. No one is screaming to promote the third division team, although people may be screaming to relegate the Sky Blues. A team with the right game plan can beat anyone.

As for my point about the MetroStars, I was at RFK Stadium watching a full strength D.C. United play rather lethargic and draw with a Metros team that played really well. Zambrano is a quality forward and their defense was organized. The game itself was much better to watch than the Cup final because unlike the Rhinos, the Metrostars actually pushed forward and tried to score.

As for why an A-league team got to the finals, I'm not sure how some of the MLS teams got eliminated. One of your letters said the Galaxy wasn’t at full strength. United wasn't even close against Charleston. Charleston beat a middle table A-league side, not the Champions of North America.

In conclusion, I would like to see the Rhinos in MLS with the addition of a higher payroll and a few more quality players, they would be an MLS quality team. But there current team if the Cup final was any indication would have trouble finding points.

Craig Swanner [cswanner@mpra.com]

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