Match preview: Rough Riders at Red Bulls Under-23
May 2018

The Long Island Rough Riders, exclusive PDL affiliate of New York City FC, begin their 2018 season tonight against New York Red Bulls Under-23. Kickoff is 7 p.m. from Red Bulls Training Facility in Whippany, N.J.

“It’s very important to get off to a great start, especially against a team who we will be challenging against for the league,” first-year coach Stephen Roche said.

The Rough Riders are coming off a 6-3 extra time victory against Kingston Stockade FC (NPSL) in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup first round on Wednesday. The Red Bulls U-23 lost 2-1 to FC Motown (NPSL) in their first-round match Wednesday.

Trailing 2-0 in the second half against Kingston, Long Island scored five unanswered goals in the comeback victory to advance to the second round against Louisville City FC on May 16.

“I think it’s important we pick up where we left off from our second half and extra-time performance,” Roche said. “At times we really showed what we can be capable of going forward, but still have a lot of things to tighten up on.”

After two years in the PDL Northeast Division, the Rough Riders return to the Mid-Atlantic Division this season, joining Evergreen FC, FA Euro, Lehigh Valley United, New York Red Bulls U-23, Ocean City Nor’easters, and Reading United FC.

Long Island went 10-2-5 in 2017 en route to the PDL Eastern Conference Final. The Rough Riders, who finished runner-up in the Northeast Division, defeated Mid-Atlantic winners Red Bulls U-23 in a conference play-in game. Long Island toppled South Division winners Myrtle Beach in the conference semifinals before losing on penalty kicks to eventual PDL champion Charlotte in the Eastern Conference Final.

“We aren’t thinking about last year’s game,” Roche said. “Both squads have a new look to them as most PDL clubs freshen up every year. We know they will be looking to get one over on us, and if we aren’t prepared and ready to compete right from the start, it will be a tough game.”

BY: Michael LoRé
Staff Writer