It just was not meant to be for RNY FC.
Rochester got the glory tie of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round, getting a chance to take on the defending MLS champions, NYCFC, to see if this dream cup run could continue on the heels of a rebirth.
Two first half goals from the hosts never dampened the RNYFC players’, nor its fans’, spirits, and a goal right before halftime from the underdogs gave everyone a jolt of confidence heading into Bruno Baltazar’s halftime talk that yes, a “cupset” could be in the works.
But, it just was not meant to be.
RNY FC ultimately fell 3-1 to its Empire State brethren, and exited the Open Cup just shy of the Round of 16.
What a run it was, though, for the Rochester side that was playing in the tournament for the first time in five seasons.
Playing in front of its fans at Belson Stadium on the Campus of St. John’s University in Queens, New York, NYCFC was on the back heel immediately, as RNY FC nearly scored a goal in the first minute that would have turned the tie on its head. Raymond Drai fizzed a ball across the six that was nearly put in at the back post by Jesus Batiz inside of 30 seconds, with the hosts let off the hook.
With RNY FC playing well, an eight-minute period from the hosts looked to have turned the contest. In the 23rd minute, Gabriel Pereria lofted in a perfectly-weighted left-footed cross that found Thiago Andrade, and Andrade cooly looped a volley over the head of Philip Ejimadu to make it 1-0.
It was 2-0 in the 31st minute, when a back-pass to Ejimadu was closed down by Héber and turned into the net.
But the visitors would not go quietly into that good night: Gibran Rayo’s mazy run inside the box led to a failed clearance falling right at the feet of Batiz on the doorstep of the goalline, with Batiz firing home to make it 2-1 in the third minute of first half stoppage time.
The goal energized the MLS NEXT Pro side, and RNY FC spent the next half hour trying to find a second. It was the hosts that would ultimately get their third in the 76th minute, as Maxime Chanot hung in the air and headed in Santiago Rodríguez’s corner at the back post to make it 3-1.
NYCFC was awarded a penalty late in the contest, but Ejimadu dove to his left to make the save on Gideon Zalelem.
Now, the tournament will go on with just three teams from outside the MLS, and it seems to be safe that Rochester will still be the last team from outside the top flight to win the cup, which was way back in 1999.
But it was one to remember for RNY FC: Rochester has now won a record 17-straight first matches in the U.S. Open Cup after it beat Lansdowne Yonkers FC in the second round, and it survived a third round contest with just nine men, beating FC Motown in penalties after a 2-2 draw.
RNY FC will now head back to MLS NEXT Pro action Saturday, where it will look to build its first two-game winning streak of the 2022 campaign at home against Inter Miami CF II.
But next year? RNY FC is going to make some more noise in the Open Cup, because that is why they do. Believe it: Believe Impossible.