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Victory face top-of-the-table Rochester Friday

June 21, 2007 - USL First Division (USL-1) - California Victory News Release

SAN FRANCISCO (June 21, 2007) -- The California Victory faces top-of-the-league opponents this weekend when it travels east to take on the Rochester Raging Rhinos Friday. Kickoff is at 4:35 PST, and the match can be seen live at www.usllive.com.

Deportivo Alaves forward Juan Epitié will return to the Victory squad for Friday's game, announced club officials Wednesday.

The Victory is enjoying a league run of three-straight shutouts and four games unbeaten, but at the same time has had problems scoring goals -- and the team hopes the addition of Epitié will help jump-start the offense.

"We do create [scoring] opportunities, but we are still looking to improve our attack," said head coach Glenn Van Straatum.

The Vics played to a 0-0 tie with the Atlanta Silverbacks last Saturday, a result that reflects the progress the defense has made in recent weeks, and the San Francisco-based club has not conceded a goal in 320 minutes of play.

"Last Saturday's nil-nil score was a deserved result for us," said Van Straatum. "I felt we played a good game, especially in the second half. Defensively I was very happy -- Schwarze, Dunn, Reed and especially Aguilar were all steady and solid."

Luis Aguilar was rewarded for his hard work Tuesday when he was named in the USL First Division Team of the Week.

The Victory defense will have a high-powered offense to contend with in Rochester -- the Rhinos come off a 5-2 drubbing of Charleston Sunday and have scored 22 goals already this season, compared with the Victory's seven.

The last time the two sides met, the Rhinos defeated the Victory 3-1 in California's first-ever home league game.

But the Vics have already pulled off one giant-killing this season when they beat champions Vancouver, who were at the time top of the First Division, 1-0 at Kezar Stadium on June 7.

Yuri Morales' goal in that game was the last time the Victory scored in the league.

Friday's game is the first of an epic schedule that includes four games in seven days, a schedule that will test the squad's depth and the player's mettle.

When asked about the possibility of squad rotation, Van Straatum said: "We'll go with the strongest lineup possible but we need to get the most out of the players that we bring."

"There are challenges," he added. "But we can play to our opponents level and play the best in the league -- we know this because we beat the champions. The most important thing is to continue to get better and to see progress."

"I'm very proud of the team as they can handle any challenge thrown at them. We'll continue to be competitive -- that's the best we can do."

The Victory returns home Thursday to take on West Coast rivals Portland Timbers. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco. Tickets can be purchased at Kezar on the night or by visiting www.californiavictorysoccer.com

INJURY REPORT

OUT: Ryan Suarez, Josh Barton.

DOUBTFUL: Omar Aguayo, Luis Mira.

LIKELY: Mike Muñoz, Jose Retiz, Raul Palomares.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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