Written by Michael Lewis

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Long Island Rough Riders will play their most important home game in years as they will host the USL League Two Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Friday, July 21.

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Seacoast United Phantoms face the Hudson Valley Hammers at 4 p.m.

The Rough Riders will meet the Ocean City Nor’Easters at 7 p.m.

The winners will compete in the conference semifinals on Sunday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

“It’s exciting from our point of view,” Rough Riders General Manager Tanner Sands said. “Our goal is always to bring a platform to high quality soccer to Long Island. Not only are we giving our team a place to highlight the success they’ve achieved all year, but we’re doing it on a bigger scale by bringing in three games.”

All four teams represent the best that college and amateur soccer has to offer on the east coast, as they are coming off successful regular seasons.

Seacoast (11-2-1) finished atop the Northeast Division. Hudson Valley (10-3-1) was runners-up behind Metropolitan Division champion Long Island (12-1-1). Ocean City (8-15) captured the Mid Atlantic Division crown.

“They are some of the best franchises this level from the competitive standpoint,” Sands said. “It might not be the best draw but in terms of what we’re doing in creating a platform on Long Island. I don’t think there’s much more you can ask for.”

Sands added that the Rough Riders “deserve this. It’s been years in the making. Hopefully, this is a platform that Long Island soccer fans can get behind.”

The Rough Riders played all their playoff games on the road last year, when reached the League Two final against the Ventura County Fusion.

“It’s a nice reward for the hard work that they’ve put in,” Rough Riders head coach Tom Bowen said. “We’ve had three really successful years on the bounce since I’ve been the head coach, and we haven’t had the opportunity to play a playoff game in front of our crowd. To get that chance on Friday, it’s awesome. People can come out of the game and see some high-level soccer. Hopefully, we can do the business and progress to Sunday.”

The Rough Riders are quite familiar with the Nor’Easters, whom they have played in the postseason over the years. They defeated Ocean City on the road in the 2022 conference quarterfinals, 3-1.

“In terms of a first-round playoff picture, it’s as tough as it gets,” Bowen said. “We felt they were probably the best team we played all season, including all our playoff games, and that was in the very first round. The fact that we’ve got to do it again it just speaks volumes to how strong this region is.”

Long Island is coming off a 3-1 victory over NJ Copa FC in its regular-season finale on Sunday, but Bowen realized that game was in the past because there are no gimmes in the playoffs.

“For us to advance, we’ve got to beat the best,” he said.

The winner of this weekend’s series will reach the Eastern Conference semifinals the weekend of July 28-30.

To purchase tickets for Friday’s doubleheader, visit

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for youth.

Celebrating their 30th year, the Rough Riders have won two national championships. They captured the 1995 U.S. Interregional Soccer League crown and the USL Pro League title in 2002.


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Don’t miss out on exciting club news, ticket offers, program discounts and more!