The Long Island Rough Riders play back-to-back road games this weekend with a spot in the PDL playoffs up for grabs. The Rough Riders play Western Mass at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lusitano Stadium before visiting FC Boston at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ashland High School.
Long Island, which is unbeaten in its last six games following a 1-0 win against GPS Portland on June 30, is one point ahead of both the Pioneers and FC Boston in the PDL Eastern Conference Northeast Division standings. The Rough Riders, trailing only Seacoast United in the standings, are 6-1-3 with 21 points with FC Boston (6-4-2; 20 points) and Western Mass (6-3-2; 20 points) hot on their heels.
“The weekend will basically determine who is likely to move onto the postseason,” Rough Riders head coach Flavio Ferri said. “I anticipate both games having the feel of playoff games. It’s always tough to play back-to-back games on the road, but my approach going in is to focus on the first one against Western Mass. A good result there leaves us in a good position.”
The Rough Riders have won three of their past four games following the one-goal home victory against GPS Portland. The win, which avenged a 6-0 loss to the Phoenix on June 3 — Long Island’s lone blemish this season — was the team’s fourth clean sheet of the year. Andre Morrison put Long Island ahead in the eighth minute as the division’s best defense (13 goals allowed) held on for the win. Goalie Dylan Castanheira made six saves.
“Dylan has been terrific for us all season,” Ferri said. “The team chemistry and coordination has improved throughout the course of the season and continues to get better.”