Isaac Kissi scored his first professional goals in a 2-1 win over Baltimore.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Former University of Dayton soccer standout Isaac Kissi scored his first professional goal for his club, the Rochester Rhinos of the U.S. Soccer Division-2 Pro League. In fact he scored twice, giving the Rhinos a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace Baltimore on June 8 at Marina Auto Stadium in front of 6,676 fans.
Kissi, a native of Ghana, signed with Rochester in February of 2010, but had to overcome injuries before seeing his first action on May 19 and he got his first start against Baltimore on June 8.
Kissi’s Rhinos recently defeated the Dayton Dutch Lions 2-0 in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup on June 15. His former Flyer teammates Randy Dennis and Jeff Popella are members of the Lions.
Rochester didn’t quite get the 4-0 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions that Kissi predicted (later in the interview), but his squad did preserve the shutout. After playing a match at Montreal Impact on Sunday, the Rhinos will return to Rochester, N.Y. to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Tuesday, June 22 in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Rochester Rhinos remain the only lower-division club to win the U.S. Open Cup since the integration of Major League Soccer into the tournament in 1996.
Kissi took time out of his schedule to answer some questions for DaytonFlyers.com.
Describe the feeling when you signed your first professional contract and knowing it was for such a storied club like the Rochester Rhinos?
First of all, I have to give thanks to God for making my dreams come true. It has been a tough road but I couldn't have made it without Him and Dayton men's soccer. It was very humbling to sign my first professional contract. I felt like I just turned a new page in my life. But I was very happy to go to New York and play for the Rhinos. From what I have seen so far, I can boldly say they are one of the best professional clubs in this league.
What was it like playing in your first professional game? How did you feel? Did you play well?
Unfortunately, I was out with an injury for about six weeks just before preseason was over, so I missed a couple of games. My first game was against Crystal Palace Baltimore on the 19th of May. It felt great to be back playing but we lost that game and it was a little tough on my conscience just because I came close to scoring the equalizer. We have a close and great family as a team so they always push me to work hard to get my touch back again.
What was preseason like? How was it different from Dayton Flyer preseasons?
I was looking forward to some two-mile run under 12 minutes and some Flyer fitness but (should I say fortunately or unfortunately?) there was nothing like that. It was a new team with just three veterans so all we did was play for longer periods just to get to know each other. I came into preseason in shape all thanks to Mark Thobe so I really enjoyed preseason.
What will you miss most about being a Flyer?
I am going to miss everything about it; from the guys to the coaches and the school itself. Being a Flyer taught me how to work hard and never give up. I grew mentally tough being a Flyer and it has helped me a lot.
The Rhinos have a soccer specific stadium; what is the atmosphere like during games and what is it like stepping on that field?
It is always a great feeling to walk under the dimmed lights to warm up. It just brings the Baujan feeling back, playing under those lights. But you get all tensed up when the sun falls and the lights are bright and over 7,000 fans cheering so loud for you. You get all the courage to do what you have to do to get a win. My heart skips a beat sometimes with excitement and the mindset to perform well cannot be described.
How active are you in the community for the Rhinos?
Our assistant coach Bill Sedgewick does a good job with assigning players to attend some interesting appearances in the community. Just last week I had to read to a class of 5th graders in Lewis Morgan School. It was a great experience. My most memorable one was when a little girl bought my jersey at our retail shop, Valenti Sports. I had just come to the store to help them launch our jersey to the customers and fans. It was really fun to know I had a fan.
What was your favorite thing about playing on University of Dayton’s Baujan Field?
The lights, the grass and coach Currier spitting out all the water he sips on during a game (love you coach). You get the feeling that you have to work and win to protect our grass!
What advice do you have for anyone trying to play pro soccer from college?
Never say never. Nothing good comes easy most of the time. There are going to be obstacles as you journey along but your dedication and hard work always see you through.
The Rhinos matched up to play the Dayton Dutch Lions in the U.S. Open Cup. Were you looking forward to playing against two of your old teammates and fellow Flyers in Randy Dennis and Jeff Popella?
I was very excited to see the matchup. It is always good to see your brothers it is just unfortunate they're not going to enjoy my services. But at the end of the day, we do it for football. Oops! We say soccer in the US.
What is the U.S. Open Cup?
The U.S. Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions in Europe and South America and the rest of the world. An example is the Carling Cup. Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup gives local amateur clubs an opportunity to compete with some of the professional clubs in the country. It usually runs concurrent with the country's league season and is entering its 97th tournament this year.
What is your prediction of the game coming up versus the Dutch Lions?
What are your thoughts on the 2010 World Cup and your national team Ghana?
It has been a great World Cup. All the teams are playing well and the underdogs are causing some upsets. I’m rooting for my country (Ghana) and also South Africa. Ghana played very well in their first game. At the end of the day, they had the PK, and a win is a win. I was watching the game with some of my (Rochester) teammates and when Ghana scored the PK in the 85th minute I started running around the room. Some of my teammates were also cheering for Ghana and they were shaking my hand and doing chest bumps.