Whenever a team loses a playoff game, there is always that abruptness to the end of a campaign.
You wait all week, sometimes more, sometimes less, for the next game, but there is not one coming until the next season.
It leaves you with a bit of an empty feeling.
But then, as you begin to look back at the campaign that just ended, you might crack a smile, thinking about the six-month run you were just on with so many of your fellow supporters.
For RNY FC fans, that is how you must feel now. Saturday, the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season came to an end for Rochester, with a 4-1 defeat to Easrtern Conference regular season champion Columbus Crew II. While RNY FC picked up five points from six before the playoffs, Jacen Russell-Rowe did not play in either of the matches.
He played Saturday, and was a one-man wrecking crew for the Crew II, with three goals, including two late on in the final minutes to ensure the best team in the league all season would be advancing to next week’s Eastern Conference Playoff Final. Russell-Rowe now has 24 goals, and is a sure-fire future star in the MLS.
There is no shame in losing to a juggernaut like Columbus: the Crew II were just better at this moment in time, and really over the course of the regular season, than RNY FC.
But do not let this defeat get your spirits down: Rochester came into this new league as the lone team without a MLS big club supporting it, and made the top four. RNY FC nearly won a division title as well, and is very well set up for the future.
Yes, we all wanted this ride to continue in 2022. But after so long away, Rochester is back on the pitch, and with a hugely successful year. For many road matches, there were more away supporters in the stands than home team fans. And how about the fan base at Monroe Community College? You made John L. DiMarco Field a fortress for Rochester on the pitch.
So now, what does the offseason and 2023 bring for the club?
The goals on the pitch now have to change after some success in 2022, although the league will have seven new faces next season, taking the total to 28 clubs in MLS NEXT Pro. More teams means more battles for playoff places, and more cities to hit on our travels.
But that is for next March: for now, we can revel in a successful first season back, and think about all of those fantastic moments RNY FC gave us in 2022.
I do know one thing: next year will be better, because we BELIEVE IMPOSSIBLE.