The Long Island Rough Riders, exclusive PDL affiliate of New York City FC, play the Myrtle Beach Mutiny in the PDL Eastern Conference Semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday in Statesboro, Ga.
A victory would put Long Island into the 2017 Eastern Conference Final against the winner of Seacoast United-Charlotte at 8 p.m. Sunday.
“As I told the boys, it’s a new season and everybody starts from the same level,” Rough Riders head coach Flavio Ferri said. “There isn’t an advantage in terms of goals or points. The approach now is doing whatever you can to get the win, no matter how.”
The Rough Riders (9-2-4) defeated New York Red Bulls Under-23 4-1 on Tuesday evening in a play-in game to earn a berth into the four-team Eastern Conference Championship. Myrtle Beach (10-1-3), winners of the South Atlantic Division, enter the game on a 10-game unbeaten streak following a 3-0 win against North Carolina FC U-23 on July 11.
Arthur Bosua leads Long Island, in the midst of a four-match unbeaten run, in goals with six. Junior Rosero and Daniel Bedoya have four goals apiece this season.
The Rough Riders were in the playoffs two seasons ago, but lost in the conference play-in game; they advanced to the PDL Semifinals in 2011. Ferri is leaning on veteran players, including Tom Wharf and Shaun Foster, who have postseason experience to lead by example this weekend.
“That postseason experience helped us against the Red Bulls,” Ferri said. “Having guys with experience helps tremendously. It’s crucial because these older, experienced players have been in these types of situations and played at the high levels, so they can calm guys down when needed or light a spark when needed.”
Toby Uzo leads the Mutiny with 13 goals (tied for second in PDL) this season. Myrtle Beach is in its first season in the PDL after switching from the NPSL prior to this season.
“We’re excited for this opportunity,” Ferri said. “We play in a similar geographical region every year so part of what’s cool going down there is playing teams we haven’t played yet and matching up with a different region. This is a big opportunity and we’re trying to make the most of it.”
BY: Michael LoRé