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When RNY FC stumbled out of the gate to start the first MLS NEXT Pro campaign way back in March, many people thought that it could be a long season for the “new” team.

But with the roster assembled by Rochester, others were more relaxed, and knew that nothing is decided in the first two weeks of any league: it is a marathon, not a sprint, as they say.

So here we are, one game past halfway in the regular season, and RNY FC has a chance–after going winless through the first month plus with just two points–to move into second place in the Eastern Conference table Thursday night with a victory over the Philadelphia Union 2. After Thursday, there will be 10 matches left for Rochester, and the team will have the same amount of games played as the two other teams right around it in the table, New England Revolution II and NYCFC II.

Are you starting to get excited yet? Well, you should be.

Heading to Monroe Community College Thursday will be the Philadelphia Union 2, who have gone 0-4-1 in their last five games starting with the 3-0 loss to Rochester back on May 21, and who have scored just one goal in that period (in a 1-1 draw against ninth place Chicago Fire 2). 

But Rochester has not found it easy playing teams a second time this season, especially after some success the first time. Will July be different from June in that regard?

Oh, and do not forget to bring your birthday wishes for Head Coach Bruno Baltazar, who celebrated Wednesday. 

MLS NEXT Pro Match Week 14

RNY FC vs. Philadelphia Union 2, Thursday, July 7, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), John L. DiMarco Field at Monroe Community College

Streaming

Use this link to the MLS NEXT Pro site to watch the contest.

Record and place in table

RNY FC: 5-4-4, 23 points, +6 GD, fourth in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, third in Northeast Division

Philadelphia Union 2: 4-5-3, 17 points, -6 GD, seventh in Eastern Conference, fifth in Northeast Division

Result in the league last match

RNY FC: defeated Orlando City B 3-2.

Philadelphia Union 2: lost 5-0 to NYCFC 2.

Result last time teams played

RNY FC won 3-0 (May 21)

Next match for both teams

RNY FC: at NYCFC Saturday, July 16, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), Belson Stadium

Philadelphia Union 2: vs. Toronto FC 2, Monday, July 18, 6 p.m. EDT, Subaru Park

Player to watch for RNY FC

Gibran Rayo, F: the player who now leads Rochester in scoring comes in hot after a brace Friday night. Rayo now has six goals, and he also scored in the 3-0 home win over Philadelphia in May. He seems to be undroppable at the moment, and is going to fancy going up against the Union 2 Thursday.

Player to watch for Philadelphia Union 2

Christopher Donovan, F: the Union 2 have scored two goals in a month and a half, and Donovan still leads the team with three goals, despite not finding the net since April 23. Someone is going to have to put the ball in the goal for this team to start turning around their season, and it might have to be Donovan

Prediction

The Union 2 have seen their goal supply dry up, and that could be a serious problem heading to face a Rochester team that has been streaky. RNY FC scored three goals last time out, and would move all the way up to second in the Eastern Conference table with a victory. From that point on, with only a weakened Columbus Crew 2 ahead of it, the sky is the limit.

RNY FC is not going to let this opportunity slip away, and give Baltazar a belated birthday present with a 2-0 victory.