The Long Island Rough Riders, exclusive PDL affiliate of New York City FC, came within one win of qualifying for the PDL playoffs for the second consecutive season.
While failing to do that is obviously unfortunate, there were still many positives to take away from the 2018 campaign.
“It was a disappointing end to the season, but I am very proud of my players who gave me everything all season long,” first-year head coach Stephen Roche said. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with this group of players.”
Long Island began the season with a match in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, defeating Kingston Stockade FC 6-3 in extra time. The Rough Riders carried that momentum into league play, winning the four PDL matches while outscoring opponents 10-2.
After suffering their first league defeat of the season and second overall — the Rough Riders lost 5-0 at Louisville City FC in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup — the team enjoyed a four-match unbeaten stretch.
Long Island remained toward the top of the Mid-Atlantic Conference standings all year, nipping at the heels of unbeaten Reading United AC. The Rough Riders were the first team to take points from the conference champions, drawing 1-1 with them on June 9.
Consecutive defeats to Reading (1-0 on June 24) and New York Red Bulls Under-23 (4-3 on June 30) put extra emphasis on the final three matches as Long Island battled with Red Bulls U-23 for the wild-card berth in the PDL playoffs. Unfortunately, a 3-1 loss to their rivals in the season finale on July 13 meant the Rough Riders’ campaign would come to an end.
“I think for most of the season we performed very well, but at critical moments we stumbled and that is something we will certainly learn from,” Roche said.
Long Island finished the season 10-5-1 overall and 9-4-1 in the PDL, good for third place in the division at 28 points. The Rough Riders had 26 goals for (fourth in division) and the second-best defense with 16 goals allowed.
Charlie Ledula led the club with 12 goals scored in all competitions, including 10 during league play. Tyler Botte added five goals (three in PDL). Midfielder Shaun Foster played the most minutes this season with 1,226, while defender Jørgen Oland registered 1,140.
“I feel we offer something different to the top college player as they can come to us and play at a very high level with other top collegiate players, but also play with and learn from the few older guys we carry on our roster,” Roche said. “This experience is something they don’t get day-to-day at college and I believe is invaluable to them.”
BY: Michael LoRé