Tonight, the RailHawks have an opportunity to take possession of first place for the first time in about two months when they face off against the Rochester Raging Rhinos up by Lake Ontario.

Joe Diveronica of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has a piece out about tonight’s match-up between two sides that have a few things in common, including a shared history with the RailHawks’ founding GM Chris Economides and inaugural coach Scott Schweitzer, as well as common ties to players Hamed Diallo and Luke Kreamalmeyer.

The first point is familiar territory around here, but the article sheds light on the issue of the two playersboth of whom were Rhinos last year:

Kreamalmeyer, who tied a team record with nine assists last year in his only season in Rochester, signed as a free agent and reportedly got a big raise. His four goals are tied with forward Sallieu Bundu for the team high in Carolina.

Diallo, Rochester’s 2007 MVP who was traded last year, has played only 196 minutes because he doesn’t fit the 4-5-1 formation Rennie employs, the coach said.

“Even though he’s a dangerous goal-scorer, he doesn’t bring a lot necessarily outside the box,” Rennie said. “He’s more suited to a 4-4-2 system.”

If it’s true that Kreamalmeyer got a big raise (sources, Mr. Diveronica?), no doubt the RailHawks owners are happy with the investment. He’s been solid all season, with a relentless work rate. As for the Ivorian, we’ve noticed Rennie altering the formation and attacking strategy when inserting Diallo as far back as the Revolution friendly, but we didn’t realize the gaffer had such a stark view of the 32-year-old French Ligue 2 veteran’s limitations.

Game time is 7 p.m. at Marina Auto Stadium, a field whose naming rights were awarded to a local dealership in a raffle drawing. It’s a nice field, albeit one with artificial turf, that seats close to 14,000 and was built, apparently, with the expectation of an MLS franchise. Rochester, which is the size of Durham, has a good record of supporting the Rhinos, with attendance regularly in the 5,000-7,000 range.

Last Saturday, prior to the Austin game, we got 15 of the 18 players in the lineup correct, including 10 of 11 in the starting XI. Tonight’s lineup prediction is: Patterson, Schulte, Tolleson, McKenney, Low, Lowery, Paladini, Kabwe, Richardson, Bundu, Kreamalmeyer. On the bench: Reed, Shields, Rusin, Watson, Budnyy, Plotkin, Gardner.