For the first time since the end of April, RNY FC had a weekend off in MLS NEXT Pro.
It might end up as fortuitous a time to recharge and regroup as the first two-week break did for Rochester, and the team might need it to be.
Over the last two games, RNY FC has picked up just one point in league play, and while the team still sits in third place in the Eastern Conference table, that position is now very precarious.
Rochester is just two points ahead of fifth place Inter Miami CF II, which means a loss this weekend at John L. DiMarco Field for RNY FC could see the team outside of the top four–and out of the playoff places–for the first time in months. What makes this match Friday night even tougher is the opponent: Toronto FC II in a Lake Ontario Derby.
Toronto has been red hot, and now sits in fourth place, just one point behind RNY FC. The Canadian side has not lost a match since May (they were 0-4 in May, by the way), going 5-0-3 in their last eight and picking up an extra point in two of the three draws: that is 20 points from a possible 24, after they were given up for dead by many rival fans.
Derby matches are always big, but this one is huge for both teams. Toronto, of course, is looking to keep the momentum going into the late season and keep pushing for the playoffs. Rochester really needs to win this one: the team is on the road for four of its next five games, and could end the weekend outside of the top four with a loss and a Miami win. Oh, and they play Inter Miami CF II next weekend after a midweek clash with Orlando City B.
The flip side is, Rochester could beat Toronto after the week off, roll into the Florida trip, and consolidate a top four place.
It is all on the line Friday.
MLS NEXT Pro Match Week 20
RNY FC: vs. Toronto FC II, Friday, August 12, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), John L. DiMarco Field at Monroe Community College.
Use this link to the MLS NEXT Pro site to watch the contest.
Record and place in table
RNY FC: 7-5-5, 30 points, +8 GD, third in Eastern Conference, second in Northeast Division.
Toronto FC II: 8-6-3, 29 points, +3 GD, fourth in Eastern Conference, third in Northeast Division.
Result in the league last match
RNY FC: drew 1-1 with Chicago Fire II, lost 5-4 in penalties
Toronto FC II: won 3-0 over Orlando City B
Result last time teams played
1-1 draw, RNY FC won 4-3 in penalties
Next match for both teams
RNY FC: at Orlando City B, Wednesday, August 17, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), Osceola Heritage Park.
Toronto FC II: vs. FC Cincinnati 2, Sunday, August 21, 7 p.m. EDT, York Lions Stadium.
Player to watch for RNY FC
Pedro Dolabella, MF: someone has to take control of the midfield in this game, and get the match going in the right direction against the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Dolabella is the man for the job. If it takes a workman-like effort, or a display of class, he is ready to do what it takes to ensure Rochester gets a result.
Player to watch for Toronto FC II
Reshaun Walkes, MF: the midfielder came off the bench to provide a spark for Toronto last match, and what a job he did. Walkes came on in the 63rd minute of a scoreless tie with Orlando City B and scored in the 67th minute, assisted in the 71st, and scored his second, and Toronto’s third, in the 84th. Talk about an impact sub! One would imagine Walkes plays a part Friday night.
Once again, this is a massive match after Rochester was off last weekend. The whole landscape of the league has changed, and a third match in a row without a victory could prove costly to RNY FC. Somehow, the hosts need to find a way to beat Toronto, something no one has done since May. That run ends here, with RNY FC taking home a 2-1 win.