Jeff Di Veronica • Democrat and Chronicle
February 25, 2011 • 2:23 pm
It’s buried at the bottom of a press release today about Rochester releasing its preseason schedule and that’s done by design, but it’s big news. The Rhinos have sold midfielder/defender Aaron Pitchkolan’s rights to the Puerto Rico Islanders. Pitchkolan, 27, was voted last year by his teammates as Rochester’s MVP. A former MLS player, he joined the club late last spring and played a key role in the club winning the USSFD2 Pro League regular-season crown.
I’ll be speaking with coach Bob Lilley later this afternoon for reaction on this, so check back later, but it’s the most telling sign that some players are turned off by the fact that the USL PRO League is sanctioned a third-division circuit by the U.S. Soccer Federation, while Puerto Rico is in the new NASL, which only recently secured second-division sanctioning. Since their 1996 inception, the Rhinos have always played in a second-division league, but uncertainty over whether the NASL would actually get sanctioned for 2011 and survive prompted Rochester to go with the USL.
The Rhinos also lost team captain, Frankie Sanfilippo, to FC Tampa Bay of the NASL, but have retained most of their best younger players off last year’s club. All of that being said, if a player doesn’t want to stay here – even if they’re under contract – I wouldn’t force him to stay, either.
As for the preseason, they open training camp March 14 and the season opener is April 15. Below is the preseason schedule (matches are free except $6 for St. Bonaventure):
Wed., March 17: SUNY Binghamton, 6:00 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium
Sat., March 26: St. Bonaventure, 3 p.m. at Corning Memorial Stadium
Thurs., March 31: University of Buffalo, 4 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium
Sat., April 2: Pittsburgh, 3 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium
Sat., April 9: Harrisburg City Islanders, 4 p.m. at Lancaster, Pa.