The Long Island Rough Riders, exclusive PDL affiliate of New York City FC, return to action this weekend with matches against Evergreen FC on June 2 and Ocean City Nor’easters on June 3 to conclude a three-match road stretch.
Kickoff against Evergreen FC is 7 p.m. Saturday from Evergreen Sportsplex in Leesburg, Va. Kickoff against the Nor’easters is 7 p.m. Sunday from Carey Stadium in Ocean City, N.J.
“This weekend is our biggest test no doubt,” first-year head coach Stephen Roche said. “Playing two games back to back is a massive test both physically and mentally, and it will also test the depth of our squad. That being said, I have full confidence in the squad and it will be a chance for some players who haven’t played that much to show what they can do.”
The Rough Riders (4-1-0 overall, 3-0-0 PDL) are coming off consecutive 1-0 victories over Ocean City on May 19 and FA Euro New York on May 22. Charlie Ledula scored to help Long Island topple the previously unbeaten Nor’easters, while Matthew Sloan’s penalty kick in stoppage time sealed the win against FA Euro.
While escaping with consecutive victories and three points in each match is crucial, Roche is more pleased with the play of the defense following back-to-back shutouts.
“I have very high expectations of our goalkeepers and defenders and in the last two games they have stepped up,” Roche said. “The first few weeks weren’t good enough and they know that. In the last two games we have only given up one clear chance on goal and we need to continue to be that tight defensively if we are to be successful.”
Evergreen FC (0-3-1) is coming off three straight defeats following a draw to open the 2018 season, most recently losing 1-0 to Lehigh Valley United on May 26. Ocean City (3-3-0 overall, 1-2-0 PDL) enters the weekend on the heels of consecutive defeats following a 4-0 loss to New York Red Bulls Under-23 on May 27.
After a week off between matches, the Rough Riders enter another compact part of their schedule with four matches in seven days. Roche said they made the most of the extra time on in training for such obstacles.
“I always say to the players our biggest games is the next game, so Saturday against Evergreen is our focus,” Roche said.
BY: Michael LoRé