The PDL season is right around the corner! Well, not exactly, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a what’s to come in the 2017 season, right? For the Long Island Rough Riders, the struggles have been evident in recent years. Since they were bounced by the Laredo Heat 4-1 in the National Semifinals back in 2011, the Rough Riders have qualified for the postseason just once (2015), which resulted in a first round exit at the hands of the Jersey Express. Yes, there have been plenty of competitive seasons during their ten years in the PDL, including last year’s third place finish in the Northeast Division. But the ultimate goal, as it is in any competition, is taking home the grand prize, and the Rough Riders still have work to do in order to accomplish that goal. A big part of getting the Rough Riders back to the promise land will be sticking to their roots. While in many cases a change of style can help propel a team to the top, the formula for success for the Rough Riders is set in place. They are a high powered, versatile offensive club that utilizes the wings well and looks to find the target man. Ascendancy to the top of the PDL will be predicated on executing this formula, similar to what they did back in 2011, when they netted north of 2.6 goals per contest. One important factor will be smooth sailing to start the season without hitting any noteworthy bumps in the road. With just 14 games in the regular season, all it takes is one small stretch of poor form for a team to miss out on the playoffs. That was the case last year, as the Rough Riders were only victorious in two of their first six games. In addition, they struggled to get up for games, as they possessed a negative goal differential in the first 45 minutes of games (13-15). “The PDL is a tough league in that it is relatively short in length and the games come quick and fast,” Rough Riders defender Thomas Wharf stated about the toughness of the PDL. “Getting a good start is vital which requires a few things to fall into place early in the season such as players being available as well as being fit and healthy.” Although most of the core is still together from last year, the Rough Riders are still looking to add some flare to their lineup, which struggled in certain attacking situations. The potential addition of Adam Whitehead. The former Binghamton starlet would provide some much needed stability to Rough Riders. He’s an incredible distributor of the ball (his 17 career assists at Binghamton is the highest total for a player in the program’s Division I era.) and has a wicked right foot. His presence in the starting eleven would help replace the void that remains from Joe Holland’s (who was recently drafted by the Houston Dynamo) move to the Ventura County Fusion a year ago. Your Rough Riders begin their hunt for glory in early May.
Staff Writer, Jackson Heil