The Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC have not played a regular season or tournament match yet in 2023, but they now likely already advancing when official word comes from United Soccer Federation in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s due to Rochester NY FC’s failure to field a team for the coming season.
The Riverhounds were scheduled to face RNYFC in the second round of the Open Cup on April 5, at 7 p.m. at Highmark Stadium.
At this late juncture, it is expected that the USSF will award a forfeit win for the Riverhounds, as they’ll move on to the Cup competition’s third round to face an opponent to be named later. The third round competition dates window would be April 25-26. At that point, the Hounds would then enter the tournament along with 18 Major League Soccer clubs joining second round winners (from USL Championship and other third/fourth division clubs along with amateur clubs still alive in the competition) .
While no official statement has come from United States Soccer Federation, the news dropped on Friday from MLS Territory reporter Gustavo Lopes and soon after officially confirmed by MLS and the Club (RNYFC).
The agreement between Rochester NY FC and the new investor “fell through” last night and the professional club is expected to go on hiatus during 2023, with the high possibility of being something permanent. The club is planning a statement to be published later… https://t.co/jTM927eXIS pic.twitter.com/BzqPkEu7fJ
— Gustavo Lopes 🇧🇷🇺🇸 (@TheGusLopes) March 10, 2023
The club linked to big names like English star Jamie Vardy, one of the most traditional clubs in the United States and long-time rival of the Riverhounds from 1999 to 2017, may never play a game again in its history.
Shortly after the Riverhounds learned that Rochester NY FC would be their opponents in the annual national competition on February 16, speculation began to grow that the Western New York-based club would not be able to field a team. The club went through an extensive makeover as part of the club’s rebirth announced in 2021 as the former Rhinos rebranded as RNYFC
Uncertainty hung over the scheduled match as there was almost zero communication coming from RNYFC, who competed in the inaugural season of MLS Next Pro in 2022.
They posted a statement on Twitter on January 4, boasting “We’re at a place now where we’re so excited and to think about where we were to where we are — it’s step on the road. There’s a way to go but the journey is just getting better and better as time goes on for us.”
A week after the Open Cup first and second round schedules were announced, including the news that the Hounds would be facing Rochester, officials from RNYFC did post the following statement on February 22.
An important update from the #RNYFC team. pic.twitter.com/aEhhYieK7e
— Rochester New York FC (@rnyfcofficial) February 22, 2023
That statement only held off the inevitable.
By Friday night, after much negative speculation lingered for weeks, MLS Next Pro made it official that RNYFC would not be part of its league in 2023.
UPDATE on Rochester New York FC and MLS NEXT Pro: pic.twitter.com/uvlkS6W9n1
— MLS NEXT Pro (@MLSNEXTPRO) March 10, 2023
The club’s official Twitter account also put out a statement simultaneously on Friday.
This decision involved a great deal of input from many stakeholders including MLS NEXT Pro and was not one we arrived at lightly. Our full intention for 2023 was to reward RNYFC supporters with another exciting season of professional soccer in Rochester.
— Rochester New York FC (@rnyfcofficial) March 10, 2023
Pittsburgh Soccer Now will have more when official word to comes from the US Soccer Federation and the Riverhounds about the decision on the match scheduled for April 6, and the schedule announcements are shared regarding the Third Round of the competition.
We're just sitting here like…
"Can we get a ruling?" pic.twitter.com/TgS8BY5Qnw
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) March 10, 2023
The Riverhounds could face a Major League Soccer opponent or one of the second round winners. The second round consists of matches between Division II and Division III league teams, and some additional Division II and Division III teams facing first round winners.
The pairings for this round were made with geography in mind, with random selection deciding matchups where there were 3 or more teams in a geographical area, or if a logical geographic fit did not exist.
Twitter Reaction on RNYFC / MLS NEXT PRO Announcements
Many in the soccer community followed to share their disappointment, with MLS Next Pro and United States Soccer Federation taking the brunt of the outrage.
Can confirm. They will be the first to forfeit since pro teams began participating again in 1995. #USOC2023 https://t.co/Y3ib8jvl3z
— TheCup.us (@usopencup) March 10, 2023
A professional team will be forfeiting an Open Cup match, for the first time ever, on your watch. Your thoughts?
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) March 10, 2023
Extremely disappointing news for the Rochester community.
I grew up in Rochester. It's an area rich with soccer tradition. A city that was once an MLS expansion candidate.
The disarray and decline over the last decade has been sad to watch.
The community deserves better. https://t.co/GqOy18PMir
— Kyle Smith (@howdyitskyle) March 11, 2023
The clowns of ML$ have officially killed the Rochester Rhinos. @MLS is truly the worst thing to ever happen to American Soccer. https://t.co/rrT7evI3OY
— Mathew Ballard ↙️↙️↙️ (@mathewballard) March 10, 2023
The owners of Rochester NY Football Club, a local soccer team, whose roots date back to the former Rochester Rhinos,say the latest version of that team will not be playing in the upcoming season.https://t.co/lPVGJMdWwa
— WXXI News (@WXXINews) March 10, 2023
Complete joke. Rochester isn't capable of having a professional soccer team anymore. It has a great youth and amatuer community, but doesn't have the facilities or area to support a professional team. Can't even last a year. https://t.co/PMjLU2kR7I
— Prayers for Hamlin #3 (@Quamster643) March 10, 2023
It's insane how poorly pro soccer in Rochester has been managed since 2005/06 https://t.co/YeVulQgPWJ
— Mark Yesilevskiy (@MarkWhyy) March 10, 2023
Rochester New York FC, the MLS Next Pro club co-owned by Leicester City star Jamie Vardy, has announced it has ceased operations.https://t.co/QuXDpsZ8UY
— Pro Soccer Wire (@prosoccerwire) March 10, 2023
BREAKING NEWS: Jamie Vardy's US soccer club Rochester New York PULLS OUT of the new MLS NEXT Pro season after failing to secure funding
via https://t.co/tRYG0AuBDk https://t.co/Snkuve1w44
— 𝔸𝕝-𝕙𝕒𝕛𝕚 𝕀𝕤𝕞𝕒𝕚𝕝 (@Alfaenshe) March 11, 2023