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A Revival with Rochester: Hounds to host Western NY’s MLS Next franchise in U.S. Open Cup second round

One time Rochester Rhino, and current Hounds captain Kenardo Forbes competes in 2017 USL Championship match between the longtime rivals. File Photo courtesy Rochester Rhinos

On Thursday, United States Soccer Federation released the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup second round pairings and host sites as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC learned that they’ll be facing an opponent from Rochester, NY for the first time since longtime rival Rochester Rhinos suspended operations in late 2017.

The date and time are still yet to be announced, but the game will have to be played in the second round window, between April 4-6.

The Hounds will host Rochester New York FC, who compete as an independent franchise in MLS Next Pro, but maintain its connection to the original Rochester Raging Rhinos (who later dropped the Raging).

The Rhinos have a storied history in the Open Cup, as they were the last second division club to win the tournament.

In 2021, the club went through an extensive makeover as part of the club’s rebirth, as the Rhinos rebranded as Rochester New York FC or RNYFC for short.

However, there is some uncertainty hanging over this potential match.

There has been very little, if none, activity from RNYFC since the first week of 2023, as it appears that they are a club in danger of folding again.

The Hounds last faced the Rochester Rhinos on October 7, 2017 at Highmark Stadium, when its current Head Coach, Bob Lilley and midfielder and captain, Kenardo Forbes, were part of the Western NY outfit.  Lilley and Forbes led the Rhinos to USL Cup Playoff victory in 2015, capping a remarkable season when they lost just once.

The playoff-bound Rhinos defeated the Hounds, 2-0, to take the season series, 1-0-2 on that day.  The series ended between the two clubs with Rochester holding the decided edge, 24-6-7 in all competitions.  The Hounds faced Rochester four times in the Open Cup through the years, with the Western NY side holding a 3-0-1 advantage.

Another slow start dooms Hounds in 2-0 loss to Rochester

The First Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – U.S. Soccer’s annual national championship – kicks off with 14 First Round games across the country between March 21 and 23.

The 14 contests of the First Round feature nine teams that advanced from the fall’s Qualifying Rounds, 10 teams from United Soccer League (USL)’s League Two, eight more from the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and, finally, reigning national amateur champions Bavarian United of Wisconsin.

The full field of non-MLS professional teams — including the Riverhounds SC — enter the competition in the Second Round.  The full list of second round matches can be found here.

US Open Cup 2023 first round is set; Riverhounds will begin play in second round in early April

Rochester New York FC completed its first season in MLS Next Pro with a 10-8-6 overall record, and they qualified for the league playoffs, where they lost in the quarterfinal round.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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