Now, the real work begins.
Well, I jest slightly: RNY FC has been working hard all season in MLS NEXT Pro to make the Eastern Conference top four and the playoffs. It only feels like last week’s 2-0 win over New England Revolution II was the first win in six weeks.
Wait: it was?
None of that matters now, though; from Sunday until the final regular season contest of the 2022 campaign (on Sunday, Sept 18 at home to NYCFC II), it is all on Rochester. If the club can pick up a couple wins, or maybe a win and two draws with a bonus point or two, and there very well could be at least ONE more playoff game in their future.
It is amazing how that works, but it is also the reason why every coach preaches about the importance of the next game, the next half, or the next goal. Yes, the past matters, but only to shape the battle. Now, the thing that matters will be the present on Sunday at 3:30 in Chester, PA.
There are just so many games over the next few weeks that will determine the top four in the Eastern Conference. Saturday night, fifth place Inter Miami CF II hosted second place Toronto FC II, while the game between Philly and Rochester was third vs. fourth. Next week, all of the teams battling for a playoff spot will switch partners, and do it all again.
Talk about some fortuitous scheduling from the league office!
If you are a fan, this is what you want though, right? A chance to play your way into the postseason. Win your games, or get some results, and you EARN your way into the playoffs.
I would not want it any other way.
MLS NEXT Pro Match Week 21
Philadelphia Union II vs. RNY FC, Sunday, Sept. 4, 3:30 p.m. EDT (8:30 p.m. EK time), Subaru Park
Use this link to the MLS NEXT Pro site to watch the contest.
Record and place in table
(Before kickoff of Inter Miami CF II and Toronto FC II Saturday night)
Philadelphia Union II: 9-8-4, 34 points, -3 GD, third MLS NEXT Pro, second Northeast Conference, 4-5-2 home record.
RNY FC: 8-8-5, 33 points, +5 GD, fourth MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, third Northeast Division, 3-5-2 away record.
Result in the league last match
Philadelphia Union II: lost 2-0 to Columbus Crew 2
RNY FC: defeated New England Revolution II 2-0
Result last times teams played
RNY FC won both games over Union II 3-0 in Rochester this season
Next match for both teams
Philadelphia Union II: vs. Orlando City B, Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. EDT, Subaru Park
RNY FC: at Toronto FC II, Sunday, Sept. 11, 3 p.,m. EDT (8 p.m. UK time), York Lions Stadium
Player to watch for Philadelphia Union II
Paxton Aaronson, MF: yes, you know the surname. His brother is tearing it up with Leeds United, and Paxton is currently tearing up MLS NEXT Pro when he plays–in between minutes for the top team in the MLS. Maybe Manchester United can buy him?
Player to watch for RNY FC
Gibran Rayo, F: goals change games, and his fifth minute penalty certainly changed the fortunes of Rochester last week. With 12 goals, he has been the target player for RNY FC, and a goal or two this weekend could prove pivotal in the playoff race.
This is just such a massive match for both teams. Toronto FC II has a game in hand, but it is against Inter Miami CF II, which is just one point behind RNY RFC. Those two teams battled Saturday night. Philadelphia is one point clear of Rochester, but that obviously changes with a win today by RNY FC (or even a draw and win in penalties). Rochester has beaten Philly twice by identical 3-0 scores, so maybe they have the Union’s number? How about 1-0 Rochester?