The Long Island Rough Riders, exclusive PDL affiliate of New York City FC, travel to Pennsylvania for a two-game road trip this weekend against Lehigh Valley United and Reading United AC.
Kickoff against Lehigh Valley United is 7 p.m. on June 23 from JBC Stadium in Allentown, Pa. Kickoff against Reading United AC is 7 p.m. on June 24 from Gurski Stadium in Reading, Pa.
“There’s no hiding from the fact this weekend will be tough,” Rough Riders first-year head coach Stephen Roche said. “We will be better prepared this time than from our last back-to-back trip.”
Long Island (7-2-1 overall, 6-1-1 PDL) is coming off a 1-0 home victory against FA Euro New York on June 16. Charlie Ledula scored the game’s only goal in the 33rd minute to bring his team-leading tally to six in all competitions.
The Rough Riders had polar opposite performances in their last weekend road trip, defeating Evergreen FC 5-1 on June 2, but losing 2-0 to Ocean City Nor’easters the next day.
Long Island hasn’t lost since, going 2-0-1 in its past three games, while allowing just one goal. The Rough Riders boast the second-best defense in the Mid-Atlantic Division, having surrendered just five goals in eight matches.
“We work very hard collectively to ensure we are solid defensively,” Roche said. “All 11 players have their role defensively. We have a great spine with Dylan Castanheira in goal, Tom Wharf and Jørgen Oland at center back, and Shaun Foster at center midfield, who ensures everyone in midfield does their job.”
Reading United AC (8-0-1) leads the division with 25 points, while the Rough Riders are hot on their heels with 19 points and a game in-hand. Lehigh Valley United (1-7-0) has three points from eight matches.
Unbeaten Reading is coming off a 2-0 win against Ocean City on June 20, which extends its winning streak to three matches. The team’s lone non-win this season is a 1-1 draw with the Rough Riders on June 9. Lehigh Valley United, on the other hand, is in the midst of a four-game losing streak following a 6-0 defeat to New York Red Bulls Under-23 on Wednesday.
“Reading is a very good side and coach Alan McCann has them firing on all cylinders right now,” Roche said. “We don’t think we did ourselves justice at home against them, although we did well to grab the draw. We have been looking forward to this one for a few weeks. These are the games everyone wants to play in and the players will be working all week to try and get in that starting 11.”