Team Open cup win 4.20.22

Whenever you get a matchup of top flight champions against teams from divisions below in cup games, people always refer to a long list of underdogs that got their chance and took care of business.

David vs. Goliath.

Rocky vs. Apollo Creed.

Rudy.

The 1980 Olympic hockey semifinal between the U.S.A and the U.S.S.R.

It is the same all around the world: on May 22 over in Portugal, the Taça de Portugal will be decided by newly-crowned champions Porto and tiny Tondela, which is fighting right now to stay in the Primeira Liga but will be playing in Europe next season on the back of its cup final run.

Oh, and there is one more example that soccer people from America use to showcase what can happen during a knockout tournament for underdog squads.

The 1999 Rochester run to the U.S. Open Cup title. 

Miracles do happen: just think back to 1999, and the incredible run that made news all around the globe thanks to the exploits of the lower division team.

Well, RNY FC is into the fourth round of the Open Cup in 2022, and has one of those massive matchups. Rochester is making the trip to Queens, New York, where it will take on defending MLS champion NYCFC in what is the most high-profile David v. Goliath (or maybe Goaliath if RNY FC gets a game-winner?) battle of the round.

RNY FC is no stranger to cup runs and upsets in this tournament: it has the record for most consecutive wins in its first game of the cup (17), which dates back to the early 2000s.

But these are the MLS champions: the team that won the MLS Cup in penalties in 2021 over Portland, and then made a run all the way to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals recently, only to fall to eventual champion Seattle. Surely, Rochester can’t match up with this squad, especially with three key players–MF Pedro Dolabella, GK Caique, and CB Lamar Batista–all out of the contest.

Hey, have you been reading? We Believe Impossible in Rochester, and RNY FC will go into the contest with confidence on the heels of its first MLS NEXT Pro win over the weekend. Rochester also got here after playing all of the third round added extra time down TWO men. If that doesn’t show you what this team can do, nothing will. 

Do not write off these underdogs just yet.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round

NYCFC v. RNY FC, 7 p.m. EDT, Belson Stadium, Queens, New York

Streaming

Previous Round Results

NYCFC: entered in this round

RNY FC: second round, defeated Lansdowne Yonkers 1-0; third round, defeated FC Motown 2-2, 4-3 in penalties 

Previous Best Finish In U.S. Open Cup

NYCFC: Round of 16

RNY FC: Champions, 1999 (as Rochester Rhinos) 

Player To Watch For NYCFC

Valentín Castellanos, F: he leads NYCFC in goals with five so far in 2022, and Castellanos is going to be the danger man, if he plays. Now, whether or not this team plays its full strength side or rotates some players, with three more matches coming up in the next 11 days (including one at home Saturday against Columbus in MLS action), is another story. Castellanos has already won a MLS Player of the Week award in 2022, and is a dangerous forward.

Player To Watch For RNY FC

Preston Popp, F: with three players suspended for the contest due to the third round red cards, including April Player of the Month Pedro Dolabella and penalty shootout hero Caique, someone–or, to put it better, multiple players–are going to have to step up on this big stage against the defending MLS champions. If everything goes to plan for Rochester, it might be that a single chance has to be taken. Could it be Popp, who was so good Sunday in the win over FC Cincinnati 2, that buries the opportunity if it arises?

Prediction

It is going to be very hard for RNY FC without key players, but that is why you have to Believe Impossible, right? NYCFC has a long history of early losses in this cup to lower division sides, and with the title from last season, could prioritize going back-to-back over a cup run. I will say this: if the game is close, RNY FC has a very good chance. If NYCFC does prioritize this cup run, and starts a strong lineup, it could be a very tough contest in this Empire State derby.