We have been here before this season with RNY FC.
Rochester saw its long unbeaten run ended, once again, at the hands of last place FC Cincinnati 2 last weekend. Winning streaks never last, and losing runs always end: that is the nature of sports.
It is what you do in the aftermath that defines the campaign, and we are at that point here for RNY FC.
Coming into this weekend, Rochester sits in third place in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference table, one point behind NYCFC (which has a game in hand), three points ahead of fourth-place New England Revs II, and six ahead of fifth-place Inter Miami CF II and sixth-place Toronto FC II. Columbus Crew 2 looks to be in the clear at the top of the table, nine points ahead of Rochester.
The gap to fifth right now is what is important, as the top four in each conference make the playoffs. But if you ask any player or coach, they will only say one thing. That gap does not matter: if we take care of our own business each game, we will be fine.
Table and scoreboard watching is always for fans: players need to refocus on the game at hand after a tough loss, and right now, that means Chicago Fire II Saturday, then a two-week break. That small interlude should make it easier to focus on the Fire II, and that is going to be needed: while Chicago does not have the best record, its games are often very interesting, with a lot of goals.
Which is ironic: the first time these two teams played back in April, there were just five total shots on goal in a 0-0 draw.
RNY FC picked up nine points from its first three July matches, and has a chance to get 12 points in its five games this month, which is the form of a playoff team. After six goals in the first two July months, Rochester has just one in its last two.
Who is going to step up and be the match winner Saturday?
MLS NEXT Pro Match Week 18
RNY FC vs. Chicago Fire II, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), John L. DiMarco Field at Monroe Community College
Use this link to the MLS NEXT Pro site to watch the contest.
Record and place in table
RNY FC: 7-5-4, 29 points, +8 GD, third in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, second in Northeast Division.
Chicago Fire II: 4-8-4, 17 points, -8 GD, ninth in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, fourth in Central Division.
Result in the league last match
RNY FC: lost 2-0 to FC Cincinnati 2
FC Cincinnati 2: lost 4-3 to Orlando City B
Result last time teams played
0-0 draw, RNY FC won 6-5 in penalties
Next match for both teams
RNY FC: vs. Toronto FC II, Friday, August 12, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), John L. DiMarco Field at Monroe Community College
Chicago Fire II: at St. Louis City 2, Saturday, August 6, 9 p.m. EDT, Ralph Korte Stadium
Player to watch for RNY FC
Lamar Batista, CB: the last time Rochester lost a game (once again, to FC Cincinnati 2), the defense stepped up for two straight games and allowed just one goal while the offense was struggling to find the back of the net. RNY FC earned four points from those two matches. Batista is going to be tasked to lead the way again from the back.
Player to watch for Chicago Fire II
Victor Bezerra, F: the last time the Supplemental Slot player took the pitch for the Fire II, he bagged a hat trick in the 4-3 loss to Orlando City B. Bezerra leads the team with seven goals, and has two multi-goal games in his last three MLS NEXT Pro starts.
This could be a tough game for Rochester. The hosts are off for two weeks after this match, so there is going to be some time to rest and recover for the playoff push in August and September. Chicago’s games of late have seen a lot of goals, so this looks to be the same. Let’s go 3-2 to RNY FC.