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Rochester polishes off MLS, beats Colorado 2-0 to capture final.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Tuesday. September 14, 1999) -- The Major League Soccer wannabe Rochester Raging Rhinos of the A-League completed their dramatic run to the Open Cup title by downing the MLS’s Colorado Rapids 2-0 to win the U.S. Open Cup title in front of a pro-Rochester crowd of 4,455 at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The improbable victory marked the first time in the tournament's last four years that a non-MLS team has won the tournament since the league started in 1996. The impressive win was the Rhinos' fourth consecutive against a Major League Soccer team and helped the Rhinos avenge their 3-0 loss to D.C. United in the 1996 U.S. Open Cup final.

"You saw two great teams tonight. It was a very competitive match . . fought well from both side," said Rochester coach Pat Ercoli. "I knew it would come down to a situation to whoever finished their opportunities would win. Obviously we're a quality team and a quality organization. We've got a great following and hopefully MLS will listen and realize that the community of Rochester, if we get a stadium, deserves a team."

Rhinos reserve forward Doug Miller, who entered the game in the 62nd minute, scored the crucial game-winning goal just four minutes later to stun the Rapids. The play began when Rochester midfielder Bill Sedgewick tracked down a deflected clearance near the left corner. He then fed a square pass to Miller, who turned and calmly slotted the ball under the legs of lunging Colorado goalkeeper Ian Feuer from point-blank range.

Miller, who was the A-League's leading scorer and Most Valuable Player in 1997 but has been relegated to coming off the bench during the last two seasons, was named the game's MVP.

"It was a great win for Rochester. I'm just happy to be a part of it," Miller said. "The guys have been working hard all summer. It's a big step for us. "It took us four (MLS) teams to come here, and we showed a lot of the teams that we're a good caliber team. For the franchise to have fans like these, it just goes to show that when a community gets behind a team, how far it can drive a team. They've driven us for four years and you've seen our success. I think a lot of people doubted Rochester coming into this, but the guys in the locker room and the owners and the coaches, we never doubted it for a second. This has been part of our goal from the get-go. We've obtained half of our goal, and the other half is the A-League Championship. We've got some work to do, but for now, it's time to celebrate."

The Rhinos held on for the remainder of the match and scored the clinching goal in the opening seconds of stoppage time. Second-half sub Carlos Zavala fired a cross from the same corner of the field to reserve midfielder Mike Kirmse, who headed the ball backward to the feet of captain Yari Allnutt, who found himself unmarked directly in front of the box. Allnutt made a single touch on the ball before putting it past Feuer to begin the celebration for the Rochester players and fans.

The Rapids, who entered the match as the top-ranked team of the 32 that qualified, controlled much of the play in the first half, outshooting the Rhinos 7-0 with less than 30 minutes played. But the Rhinos came charging back and registered three decent chances before going into the half tied at 0.

Tonight's match was the first A-League vs. MLS final since 1996 and MLS teams have dominated the tournament since they entered the competition began. But the A-League has owned this year, finishing this year's Open Cup competition with a 6-4 record against MLS teams.

You get a chance to play for a national championship, and you lose. It's very disappointing," Colorado coach Glenn Myernick said. "I think they're a team of destiny. To beat four teams in our league, they deserve to be the champions . . . I hope that with each year (the Open Cup) will grow and grow. I hope that for those other teams that haven't had the inclination to enter for whatever reason, it gives them cause to join.

Having advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 2-1 win over Lehigh Valley this weekend, the Rhinos could become the fourth team in the last five years to win the "double" (winning league and Open Cup titles) if they win the A-League Championship on October 16. The Richmond Kickers of United Soccer League's Premier League were the first to accomplish the feat in 1995, with D.C. United and the Chicago Fire following suit in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

Rochester Rhinos (USL) 2, Colorado Rapids (MLS) 0

Lineups: Colorado - Ian Feuer, Peter Vermes (Capt.), Marcelo Balboa, Tim Martin (Wolde Harris 81), David Vaudreil, Matt McKeon, Ross Paule, Kevin Anderson (Joey DiGimarino 58), Darren Sawatzky (Jason Bent 76), Paul Bravo, Jorge Dely Valdes; Rochester - Pat Onstad, Tim Hardy, Craig Demmin (Michael Kirmse 51), Scott Schweitzer, Andrew Restrepo, Mali Walton, Bill Sedgewick, Mauro Biello, Yari Allnutt, Nate Daligcon (Carlos Zavala 83), Darren Tilley (Doug Miller 62).

Rochester - Miller (Sedgewick) 66;
Rochester - Allnutt (Kirmse) 90.

Shots: Colorado 15, Rochester 10. Saves: Colorado 2, Rochester 3. Fouls: Colorado 18, Rochester 15. Offside: Colorado 3, Rochester 2. Corner kicks: Colorado 3, Rochester 4. Yellow card cautions: Colorado - Martin 79, John 80; Rochester - Tilley 38, Miller 67, Daligcon 69.

Referee: Tim Weyland. Referee's assistants: Craig Lowry, Nathan Clement. Attendance: 4,455 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Weather: 65 degrees, clear, cool.

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