Do you like goals?
Do you like prolific goal scorers on scorching-hot runs just as the weather turned warm?
Well, we have a treat for you Saturday night in the Big Apple: two of the best MLS NEXT Pro teams in the league will face off with second place in the Eastern Conference at stake.
The last time RNY FC faced off against NYCFC II was way back in late April, and it was the New York City side that came away with a stunning 3-2 victory after Jonathan Jimenez scored the winner in the third minute of second half stoppage time.
At the time, it felt as if Rochester was the most snake-bitten team in the league: after four games in its new iteration, RNY FC had a lone draw, and two points, to show for some decent outings.
Then, the calendar flipped to May, and it has been a whole different Rochester team. Maybe it was that loss, and the way it happened, that snapped this team out of the early season mire. Since then, RNY FC has gone 6-2-3, with three extra points in spot kicks, and comes into Saturday even on points with third place New England Revolution 2 and just two points behind second place NYCFC II.
Yes, you see it: Rochester would move up into second place with a win in the Big Apple Saturday, and it would trail Columbus Crew 2 by just three points for top spot in the table.
But this NYCFC II team has been PROLIFIC: that capitalization is needed, as the hosts have scored 14 times in its last three games while allowing just one. And if you want to talk about prolific, how about John Denis? He scored FOUR TIMES in the first half last week in the 4-0 destruction of New England. Amazingly, in his last two games, he has six goals, four of which have come in the first SEVEN MINUTES of the matches: he scored in the third and fourth minute in a 5-1 win over FC Cincinnati 2, and then in the second and seventh minute last week.
That is pretty ridiculous. Denis is just on fire right now. But RNY FC has Gibran Rayo, who has five goals in his last two games, and three of those have been first half tallies.
We might not have to wait long for this game to come to life.
How does this pivotal Eastern Conference contest play out in Queens? Let’s take a look.
MLS NEXT Pro Match Week 15
NYCFC II vs. RNY FC, Saturday, July 16, 7 p.m. EDT (12 a.m. UK time), Belson Field
Use this link to the MLS NEXT Pro site to watch the contest.
Record and place in table
NYCFC II: 8-4-3, 28 points, +22 GD, second in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, first in Northeast Division.
RNY FC: 6-4-4, 26 points, +9 GD, fourth in MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference, third in Northeast Division.
Result in the league last match
NYCFC II: defeated New England Revolution 2 4-0
RNY FC: defeated Philadelphia Union 2 3-0
Result last time teams played
NYCFC II won 3-2 with a last minute winner.
Next match for both teams
NYCFC II: vs. Inter Miami CF II, Sunday, July 24, 6 p.m. EDT, Belson Stadium
RNY FC: vs. FC Cincinnati 2, Friday, July 22, 6 p.m. EDT (11 p.m. UK time), John L. DiMarco Field at Monroe Community College
Player to watch for NYCFC 2
John Denis, F: well this one was just about the easiest one to figure out all season. Since Memorial Day, Denis has established himself as the frontrunner for Player of the Year honors in MLS NEXT Pro with nine goals (13 overall to lead the league): SIX of those came in the last two games, and four of those came in the 4-0 win over
Player to watch for RNY FC
Gibran Rayo, F_:_ not only is Rayo now undroppable, he may also be the key to Rochester’s run to silverware. He has five goals in two games, nine overall, and sits in the top five of the MLS NEXT Pro golden boot race. Rayo has put 10 shots on target in his last 180 minutes, which shows how locked in he is.
Two of the best teams in the league will battle again, and if the first match was anything to go on, this is going to be a treat to watch. There are going to be goals: NYCFC II has scored 40 times in its 15 matches, and has 14 in its last three: in those three games, the hosts have allowed just one goal.
This is a massive match for both teams: Rochester would move up to second in the conference with a game in hand on NYCFC 2, while the hosts would open up a five-point gap between them and both RNY FC and New England, and also cut the lead at the top to just one point to Columbus.
Rayo and Denis both score, and it ends 4-3 to Rochester.