Rochester New York FC and Chicago Fire II played to a 0-0 regulation draw at SeatGeek Stadium Sunday afternoon, with RNY FC coming out on top 6-5 in the shootout.
Each side earned their first points of the season, but with the victory in the shootout, RNY FC earned a second point.
Through week three of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season, FIRE II has yet to find the back of the net during the 90 minutes of regulation plus stoppage time. Meanwhile, RNY FC has only found the back of the net once, in their 3-1 loss to Revs II in week two.
FIRE II goalkeeper Christopher Brady came up big late in the match, with stunning saves in the 75th and 78th minutes. Brady, a homegrown product of the Chicago Fire, made those two late saves to send the match to kicks from the spot.
Brady’s heroics continued into the shootout, making a big save on RNY FC’s third kick from the spot. However, RNY FC goalkeeper Caique Santos countered with a save of his own in the third round.
Santos’ heroics came about again in round six, making the shootout-winning save to claim the second point for his side.
Despite falling in the shootout, Fire II head coach Ludovic Taillandier sees today as a positive and as a big moment for the growth of his side.
“It's a little better than last week for sure. We had a good performance in Orlando two games ago. We didn't get any points when we could have. We deserved a little better but now, definitely, it's our first point,” Taillandier said. “The mentality was there, we played a 4-4-2 and we tried to bring numbers to the front, sometimes we lost a little bit of the ball close to our goal, then we conceded some chances but in general I was happy with the mentality of the guys and we also created the situations and then chances… We could have hoped for a little better but we'll take this first point of the season.”
Brady, who made a stunning 1v1 save in the 75th minute and followed it with a third-round save in the shootout, praised his side's effort with today being a step in the right direction.
“It's a huge step forward. Obviously, the last two games – they’re in the past – but we came in today really looking for points and although it wasn't the three we wanted, it's a massive step for us and I think it's most definitely going to motivate us for the weeks to come and especially looking at next week,” Brady said.
With no regulation goals scored in the first three matches played, Taillandier wants to see his team come together as a squad more in the final third. Meanwhile, Brady was adamant about the growth he has seen in three weeks despite a zero in the win column.
“I had mentioned it before, but I think the team chemistry that was probably one of the biggest takeaways is that it's still growing but It's physically growing. And I think a lot of the guys are starting to, you know, understand each other on the field and really enjoy playing with each other. So I think that's probably my biggest takeaway, is that we're really coming together as a team.”
For RNY FC, it is also a progressive step for the only non-affiliated team competing in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. Santos made two crucial saves in the shootout to claim the additional point for his side, with the visitors finding their first points of the season on the road in Illinois.