A draw was as good as a win for Rochester New York FC, which reached the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs in the league’s inaugural season.
RNYFC played to a 2-2 draw with NYCFC II before 2,000 spectators at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y. on Sunday.
The result eliminated NYCFC II from playoff contention as the squad need three points and several other results to lift it into the postseason.
Rochester is the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and will meet Columbus Crew 2 at Historic Crew Stadium on Saturday at 3 p.m.
This season was the franchise’s first since it went dormant as the Rochester Rhinos after the 2017 USL Championship season. The club was renamed.
The visitors drew first blood as Jonathan Jimenez tallied his third goal in his two matches. Pedro Dolabella equalized for Rochester early in the second half.
NYCFC II took the lead again as John Denis converted his 14th goal of the campaign via a penalty kick in the 68th minute.
Again the hosts counter, this time on a PK of their own by Gibran Rayo only three minutes later.
Caique, whose foul led to NYCFC II’s penalty, made a spectacular double save in the 89th minute, which secured the draw.
However, the game went to penalties and although it was too late for NYCFC II to boost its playoff chances, it won the shootout, 5-4.
Conference Semifinals schedule
Saturday, September 24
Columbus Crew 2 (1) vs. Rochester New York FC (4) – Historic Crew Stadium (3 p.m. ET)
Toronto FC II (2) vs. Philadelphia Union II (3) – BMO Field (7 p.m. ET)
Sunday, September 25
St Louis CITY2 (1) vs. North Texas SC (4) – TBD (7:30 p.m. ET)
Tacoma Defiance (2) vs. Houston Dynamo 2 (3) – Starfire Sports Complex (10:30 p.m. ET)
Fans will be able to watch every match of the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs live via enhanced broadcasts on mlsnextpro.com
Within each conference, the two Division Champions plus the two teams with the next-highest point totals qualified for the postseason. In the Eastern Conference, Columbus Crew 2 claimed the Central Division title while Toronto FC II won the Northeast. Crew 2 finished the regular season with the best record in the League (55 points, 16-3-5) and as such will hold homefield advantage for the duration of the Playoffs. In the Western Conference, Tacoma Defiance won the Pacific Division and St Louis CITY2 clinched the Frontier Division and the top seed in the conference.
The playoffs will continue the weekend of Oct 1. with the Eastern and Western Conference Finals and will culminate with the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup on Oct. 8.