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Article: Tyler Rosenlund gets technical for Rochester Rhinos


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Tyler Rosenlund was raised on soccer.

His father, Bob, played on Canadian youth national teams and was drafted by the New York Cosmos of the old NASL. His uncle Dave spent time with the Vancouver Whitecaps reserve squad and another uncle, Doug, still coaches top-level youth teams.

So when Rhinos coach Bob Lilley says Tyler has a "fast soccer brain," you know why, but there's something else unique to his play.

"Sometimes, it's like he has eyes in the back of his head," Lilley says about the center midfielder who has been a key in Rochester's 2-1-2 start. "He's not the most athletic guy, but he's very hard to get the ball from because he's so good technically. He'll be in traffic and spin away from defenders, a little like Martin Nash."

An ex-Rhino and Vancouver native like Rosenlund, Nash helped lead the Whitecaps to league titles in 2006 and '08. He's also the brother of NBA star, Steve Nash.

"They always think their way through things quickly," Lilley says of the Nash brothers. "That's where speed of play isn't just about foot speed. Tyler has some of that, too."

Rosenlund, 23, was a freshman All-American for the University of California-Santa Barbara's 2004 NCAA runner-up squad and a Hermann Award candidate for the 2006 national championship team. Two other new Rhinos, forward Tino Nunez and defensive midfielder Alfonso Motagalvan, also were on the 2006 UCSB club.

Rosenlund and Motagalvan's synergy and maturation in the midfield have helped solidify the Rhinos' lineup.

"'Fonso' and I have played with each other for so long we kind of know each other's weaknesses and strengths," says the 6-foot, 170-pound Rosenlund, who left UCSB early to spend 2007 playing in Sweden's first and second divisions before most of 2008 as a backup with Toronto FC (MLS).

"He knows what I'm going to do with the ball and vice-versa."

Rosenlund also played baseball and hockey growing up but chose to focus on soccer when he was about 13. He spent significant time with Canada's U-17 and U-20 national teams, playing in the U-20 World Cup, and also trained regularly with the Whitecaps. That's how he met Lilley, who coached Vancouver from 2005-07.

Lilley has made a tradition where he coaches of welcoming talented teenagers to practice with his squad. Rosenlund was about 18 when he started.

After Rosenlund's college career and stint in Sweden, he played mostly as a backup in only eight MLS matches with Toronto in 2008. His claim to fame was becoming the first Canadian to score a goal at Toronto's BMO Field, which actually opened in 2007. But he was released by MLS in February of '09, in part, because he didn't want to sign back on as a developmental player.

Actually, he found a more important job last year.

His father was diagnosed with colon cancer in March, so Rosenlund took the season off to stay close to home and help the man who played such a pivotal role in his career. Several months ago, Bob Rosenlund was declared cancer-free and his son was in the process of "dedicating myself to getting back into shape and giving soccer one last go," he said.

Rosenlund got Lilley's cell number from Steve Kindel, who played for Lilley in Vancouver and briefly for the Rhinos last year. Kindel and Rosenlund are friends and played regularly against each other in a men's league back home.

"I'm lucky Bob has given me this opportunity," Rosenlund says. "There's no attitudes on this team and I think that helps us on the field."



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I think David Edgar might have something to say about being the first Canadian to score at BMO Field - and MC2 was second (or first in MLS play). Actually Andrea Lombardo might have been second with his goal against Aston Villa.

In any event, nice to hear Roselund is doing well.

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