Would you like to fancy a guess as to which MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference team has picked up the most points since Memorial Day?
You do not even have to think about it, do you RNY FC fans? It is none other than your Rochester juggernaut.
RNY FC has picked up 27 of a possible 33 points in its last 11 matches, and for the second time in three months has started its monthly slate with three wins on the bounce. Those three wins in July have come in three distinctly different ways: there was a 3-2 win over Orlando City B which saw RNY FC hold on late, a 3-0 demolition of Philadelphia Union 2, and, maybe most impressively, a 1-0 victory over NYCFC II in Queens last weekend.
Why was the last win so memorable? Well, to start with, NYCFC II had scored 40 goals coming in, and 14 in its last three, before Rochester completely stifled the hosts. RNY FC played like a team that can legitimately win a MLS NEXT Pro title in 2022, against a team that has similar aspirations.
The victory moved Rochester up to fourth in the current MLS NEXT Pro Top 5 Rankings for Week 17.
But here is the thing: RNY FC has been here before. Rochester took a five-game unbeaten streak to Northern Kentucky in June and put out a clunker against last place FC Cincinnati 2, losing 1-0.
Now, RNY FC is on another five-game unbeaten run (winners of the last three), and guess who's coming to John L. DiMarco Field Friday for C.U.R.E. Childhood Cancer Association night at Monroe Community College?
That is correct: FC Cincinnati 2.
They are still in last place, and have scored just two goals since Memorial Day, but have a win over the second best team in the conference already.
This time, though, Rochester should be ready for any potential ambush. RNY FC also has a chance, as the lone top four hopeful playing Friday night, to open up a four-point gap on NYCFC II in third place, and a nine-point margin back to fifth place with just eight matches left in the regular season.
That is the type of opportunity that Rochester HAS to capitalize on to put pressure on the trailing pack, and maybe even on Columbus Crew 2 at the top of the table.
MLS NEXT Pro Match Week 17
RNY FC vs. FC Cincinnati 2, Thursday, July 22, 6 p.m. EDT (11 p.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: 7-4-4, 29 points, +10 GD, second in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, first in Northeast Division.
FC Cincinnati 2: 3-12-0, 9 points, -23 GD, 10th in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, fifth in Central Division.
Result in the league last match
RNY FC: defeated NYCFC II 1-0.
FC Cincinnati 2: lost 4-0 to Columbus Crew 2.
Result last time teams played
FC Cincinnati won 1-0 (June 11)
Next match for both teams
RNY FC: vs. Chicago Fire II, Saturday, July 30, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), John L. DiMarco Field at Monroe Community College
FC Cincinnati 2: vs. Inter Miami CF II, Sunday, July 31, 6 p.m. EDT, NKU Stadium
Player to watch for RNY FC
Bubacar Boi Djaló, MF: if you are a student of the game, you will know that the defensive midfielder position is pivotal to any team’s success. While the lineup card might not state that Boi Djaló is in the holding role, he is, and he has allowed Pedro Dolabella to roam about the pitch and wreak havoc, and his outside mids to get forward and join the attack. Boi Djaló is a very underrated part of the success this season, and is in almost every starting XI. RNY FC will be attacking Friday night, and it will be up to Boi Djaló to break up any counter-attacks.
Player to watch for FC Cincinnati 2
Nicholas Markanich, F: this team has scored two goals since Memorial Day, and one of them was scored by Markanich in the shock 1-0 win over Rochester on June 11. He has been traveling with the MLS team, and he did not feature in the last MLS NEXT Pro match, but he is the guy if he is in the 11. If not, it is going to be tough for Cincinnati to score.
If Markanich is not in the lineup, Cincinnati could struggle to score goals. The way Rochester is playing, multiple goals might be needed by the visitors to get any kind of result. Still, Cincinnati managed to beat RNY FC last time they played. I can’t see that happening again: Rochester is once again playing like it was in May, and has picked up 27 of a possible 33 points in its last 11 matches. Make it 30 of 36, as RNY FC runs out to a 3-0 victory.