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PREVIEW: Talking Wilmington Hammerheads with Vince Nairn

Get to know New York Red Bull II's opponent.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York Red Bulls fans have two matches to look forward to this weekend, with the senior team playing D.C. United on Saturday and the reserve squad playing Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Sunday.

NYRB II (1-0-1) is coming off their first win in team history after beating Toronto FC 2, 4-1. Wilmington (0-0-2) tied the Charlotte Independence, 1-1, and plays away against the Richmond Kickers on Friday night before making the trip to Harrison.

There will be a special guest in the crowd.

We're not too knowledgeable on the Baby Bulls' opponent (beyond knowing that Corey Hertzog tore it up for them in 2012), so Hammerheads expert and beat reporter Vince Nairn of the Star-News answered some questions about the upcoming match.

1) Wilmington has a match on Friday against Richmond. How will this effect their lineup against the Red Bulls? Are they more likely to field a first team, reserves, or a mix of both on Sunday?

I’m sure Friday’s match will have some effect on the lineup, but it all depends on who is available. A handful of guys are injured/coming back from injury, so a lot is up in the air. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, to see a lot of differences between Friday’s and Sunday’s starting lineups.

2) Striker Nick Zimmerman is a former Red Bulls player and already has one goal this season. Who are the other top players for Wilmington?

Justin Moose is a creative attacking midfielder who plays mostly on the right side and has been good so far. Center back Ashani Fairclough was a first team All-USL selection last season but hasn’t played yet because of injury. His status is unknown for this weekend. Midfielder Sunny Jane, also injured, is perhaps their most creative player. He’s a former Maryland product. Quick, technical, and definitely the guy the Hammers want to have the ball when he’s in there.

Left back Andrae Campbell has also been solid to start the season. Excellent 1-on-1 defender. Also makes a lot of runs down the sideline.

3) What formation and style does head coach Carson Porter utilize?

The Hammers play a 4-4-2 diamond, but depending on who’s available and how it’s working, that can change. They adjusted to a 4-2-3-1 late in the first half against Charlotte last week, and you might see a couple other wrinkles based on how the game goes.

4) Goalkeeper and NYCFC SuperDraft pick Andre Rawls recently signed with the Hammerheads. How would you describe the affiliation with the MLS club so far and has it been fruitful?

The affiliation hasn’t produced much in terms of player loans so far, but the Hammers are extremely pleased with NYC FC. They didn’t necessarily expect to receive a lot of players at the start of the season, and they’re OK with that. The Hammers really like the NYC FC brand and love being associated with it. There are some other non-loan types of things (Claudio Reyna speaking/signing autographs for youth players in February, a down-the-road idea of having youth teams travel to play against NYC FC’s teams, etc.) that are also a big part of the affiliation.

5) What should NYRB II's game plan be to beat Wilmington?

The way the Hammers play can leave them vulnerable to the counter. When they’re passing well out of the diamond, there are times you’ll see all but the two center backs in the attacking half of the field. One mistake from there can lead to a good counter chance.

6) Score prediction?

1-1. Both goals come in the first half.

7) Which Muppet is your favorite?

Fozzie Bear. We share the ability to tell bad jokes.

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READ more of Vince's work here AND here.

Read this piece too because I enjoyed it: "Last chance for First Impressions for Hammerheads' Peters?"

He was working at a hotel in New Orleans when he received an email in December promoting one of the Hammerheads' open tryouts in New Jersey. Put off by the distance, Peters shrugged it off but eventually changed his mind, electing to make a sightseeing trip out of it with his mother.

After impressing Arnold and Hammers coach Carson Porter at the Jan. 17 tryout, they asked Peters to come back for another combine in Wilmington. Arnold asked Peters how he heard about the tryout and was shocked to hear his answer.

New York Red Bulls II play the Wilmington Hammerheads on Sunday at Red Bull Arena. Stick with Once a Metro for more coverage this weekend.