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It all starts with a little hop to start to cut down the angle of the penalty taker.

Next, it is a dive to the left, or to the right. 

And while it might not be the first, second, third, or fourth, at some point, Caíque Luiz Santos da Purificação is going to make a save in penalties when his team most needs him.

It has happened time, and time, and time again in 2022, whether it be in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup or MLS NEXT Pro: Caíque is going to stop the opponent’s shot from hitting the net.

Friday night, against the Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew 2, RNY FC once again dominated the action. Unlike last month, Rochester could not find a breakthrough, and had to settle for a 0-0 draw in regulation, with an extra point on offer for the fourth time in the league.

For the fourth time (and fifth if you include the Open Cup), RNY FC came away from end of game penalties with a victory. Caíque made a save to negate a Rochester miss, and the hosts came away with a 4-2 win in pens to pick up two points on the night and move into third place in the Eastern Conference table.

Each time, Caíque has been in the middle of the action: of course, the penalty takers have to convert as well. But with the big Brazilian brick wall in net, there is now a little margin for error which has suited RNY FC well: five sets of penalties, and five wins so far in 2022.

Caíque saves, as the memes on Twitter say.

Rochester should have picked up all three points on the night, but the Columbus Crew 2 keeper, Brady Scott, put on a Caíque-esque showing for the visitors, coming up with numerous stunning saves to keep a clean sheet on the night. 

Playing without MLS NEXT Pro leading scorer Jacen Russell-Rowe and the league’s leading assist maker Mohamed Farsi, who have both been called up to the Crew’s MLS team, the visitors struggled to get much offense going all night against Rochester’s defense and midfield. Columbus Crew 2 managed just two shots on target all night, and despite racking up 31 points so far in 13 matches (10-2-1), will have to figure out another way to find some offense without its two star players.

RNY FC ramped up the pressure against Scott in the final 15 minutes as the hosts pushed for a winner, but the keeper got better and better as the clock ticked towards the 90th minute, and could not be broken. Scott then saved the first Rochester penalty, to give his team a chance to win the extra point.

But even with the opening save, you just knew Caíque was going to make a save at some point. Now, he is getting so good at making saves that the opposition players have tried to become extra fine with their placement, as they try to get the ball past the Brazilian. That led to a miss from Columbus Crew 2 on its second try, to even it at 1-1. Gustavo Rissi scored, then Caíque came up with his save, diving to his left to stop Noah Fuson’s attempt. Gerardo Lopez scored to make it 3-1, and gave the hosts a huge leg up in the battle. Even with the fourth Columbus Crew 2 penalty made, once Pedro Dolabella smashed his spot kick home, that was the end of the night, and Rochester had another two points.

That makes five out of six points taken from a team that has only dropped points in one other game all year outside of the loss and draw to RNY FC.

It was another good night for Rochester, with the fireworks afterwards illuminating the sky above the turf at Monroe Community College. On the turf, it was Caíque that once again lit up the stadium, to earn Man of the Match honors for the second-straight contest. Could he be bringing home a Player of the Month award at the end of the week: not just for RNY FC, but for all of MLS NEXT Pro?

It might be as inevitable as him making a penalty save.


Caíque, GK, RNY FC


RNY FC: vs. Orlando City B, Friday, July 1, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), Monroe Community College

Columbus Crew 2: vs. Philadelphia Union 2, Saturday, July 2, 7 p.m. EDT, Historic Crew Stadium