In a thriller of a game, New York City FC II topped Rochester New York FC yesterday, spooning the home opener of the Rhinos through a 93rd-minute winner. For NYCFC II, this marked their second consecutive win—and their second win of the season. NYCFC are now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with right points after five games.
NYCFC II: 15 shots, 7 on goal, 67.1% possession, 546 passes, 84.3% pass accuracy
Rochester NY FC: 8 shots, 3 on goal, 32.9% possession, 271 passes, 72.7% pass accuracy
Rochester, which count Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy as one of the owners, are yet to win, having lost to St. Louis CITY2 and New England Revolution II, and drawing Chicago Fire FC II then getting an extra point through the ensuing penalty shootout.
This marked the first meeting between the New York teams, with this budding rivalry already being branded the Empire State Derby. While there’s an argument that this is purely a manufactured rivalry by MLS NEXT Pro, the on-field competitiveness and entertainment resembled a real one in many ways.
The first goal came via the penalty spot for Rochester after the referee decided the ball struck Piero Elias’s hand in the penalty area. Wilterlyn Inalien converted to give Rochester the early lead. Twelve minutes later, NYCFC’s Nico Benalcazar received the ball at the top of the box and whipped in a cross to the back post where Stephen Turnbull was waiting for an easy tap in. This marked the defender’s second goal in as many games.
g+ GameFlow: MLS Next Pro Regular Season @rnyfcofficial v @NYCFC on April 23, 2022. #RNYFC #NYCFC #ROCvNYC pic.twitter.com/sEcxNQoijz— GameFlow (@GameFlowxPG) April 24, 2022
Three minutes into the second half, NYCFC’s Jonathon Jimenez fired a shot from the top of the box which took a fortunate deflection that wrong-footed the goalkeeper and dribbled into the net. But in the 65th minute, Rochester broke NYCFC’s press and had a four-on-two counter-attack. Rochester’s Inalien picked the ball up on the left-wing, and after a couple of dribbles, fired the ball into a virtually open net when NYCFC goalkeeper Pol Rodriguez was caught extremely out of position, seemingly expecting a switch of play to the right-wing.
The match was filled with long pauses that disrupted the flow of the game. Multiple players went down injured and required lengthy medical treatment, adding nine minutes of stoppage to the game after the regulation 90 minutes were over.
Three minutes into that added time, NYCFC dispossessed Rochester in their own half—the ball quickly found itself at the feet of John Dennis, who slotted Jimenez down the left side of the penalty area, cut the ball onto his right foot, and smashed the ball near post to give NYCFC II the 3-2 lead and the win.
NYCFC II were dominant most of this match, holding 67% of the possession and out-shooting Jamie Vardy’s squad 15-8, 7-3 on target. In earlier matches this season, NYCFC II displayed a lack of composure and mental toughness. They failed to capitalize on their chances and ended up drawing two very winnable games. However, when facing Rochester, they found the edge that had evaded them when playing against New England and Orlando.
NYCFC next face Philadelphia Union II in Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 30, at 4 pm ET.
Rochester next face the NYCFC First Team in the US Open Cup Round of 32 on May 11th.
Rochester: Wilterlyn Inalien 20’ (P)
NYCFC: Stephen Turnbull 32’
Rochester: Wilterlyn Inalien 65’
NYCFC, Jonathon Jimenez 48’
NYCFC, Jonathon Jimenez 90+3’