It does not matter if you are a coach, player, or fan: there may be no better feeling on a pitch than scoring a stoppage time winner.
For RNY FC Sunday, everyone in attendance, and watching on the MLS NEXT Pro app, got a chance to experience that feeling in what was the biggest match of the season for Rochester.
Of course, the final four matches were always going to be huge after that six-week winless streak, but RNY FC has gotten itself up off the canvas and landed a 93rd minute haymaker courtesy of Ed WIlliams.
Rochester went on the road to Chester and knocked off Philadelphia Union II 2-1, for its third win against the Union in 2022. The late goal from WIlliams snatched all three points for RNY FC, which jumped Bruno Baltazar’s squad up into third place, two points ahead of Philadelphia (34 points) in the Eastern Conference table. Maybe more crucially, though, Rochester is now four points clear of fifth place Inter Miami CF II (32 points) and New England Revolution II (32 points) in the table with just two games left on the schedule for RNY FC.
For the second week running, Rochester got goals at opportune times in a half. In last week’s 2-0 win, RNY FC scored in the 5th minute (just as the match started) and the 43rd minute (just before the half). Sunday, Williams' winner was in stoppage time, while Will Inalien gave the visitors a lead in the 44th minute.
It looked like the game was headed to penalties for the six time this season, when Christopher Donovan pulled the hosts even at 1-1 in the 62nd minute. Both teams had chances in the final half hour, but it was Williams that pounced on a deflected pass to earn all three points.
How pivotal could those extra two points (or maybe one if RNY FC won another set of spot kicks) be in the coming weeks? Well, there are six teams battling for three spots (Columbus Crew 2 already locked up the Eastern Conference top seed), and it is going to be VERY TIGHT come 5 p.m. EDT on September 18.
Will RNY FC be one of the three teams joining Columbus in the postseason?
From the heights of second in the table, to the depths of seventh just a few weeks ago, RNY FC fans and players have run the gamut of emotions over the last two months. But Sunday was clearly the nadir of the long season: when WIlliams rolled the ball into the back of the net with nearly the last kick of the contest, it moved Rochester to within one win–probably, but there are a lot of moving parts left in the season–of a playoff berth in the first year of the MLS NEXT Pro.
We told you to “Believe Impossible” from day one, and now, it is so close to fruition.
Highs and lows, in a season, a game, a half: that is what following a team is all about for fans.
RNY FC has had its share of both, but as Ice Cube once said about today: “It was a good day”.
Philadelphia Union II: vs. Orlando City B, Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. EDT, Subaru Park
RNY FC: at Toronto FC II, Sunday, Sept. 11, 3 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. UK time), York Lions Stadium