NYRB pressed and pressed and pressed but could not blow down the house that was the Richmond Kickers defense.
The team now has 1 win in 5 matches, and after games like these its necessary to remind yourself that results do not matter. That doesn't mean the results aren't frustrating though.
For the match, the Red Bulls sent down nine first team players to NYRB II, leading to an MLS-heavy starting lineup:
Only Franklin Castellanos and Derrick Etienne were non-MLS players in the starting lineup. Etienne was making his third start in a row, an impressive feat for the Academy stand out.
The first half featured two teams trying to feel each other out, and feeling the effects of playing a professional soccer match 3-4 days earlier. Neither team took charge, but slowly the Red Bulls pressed higher up the field. A common theme for today's match was Richmond packing the box with defenders, not allowing the Red Bulls to get a cross in cleanly.
Castellanos and Sanchez played well on the wings, and Anatole Abang looked like he could score his third NYRB II goal in as many matches. In the center of the field, Sean Davis looked primed to continue his connection with the young Cameroonian striker.
In the 34th minute Anatole Abang got a feed from Davis and split the defense leading to him being one-on-one with the keeper. He dribbled around Richmond's goaltender, but was too hesitant in taking a shot with a wide open net, leading to being chased down without a clear chance on goal.
This was by far NYRB II's best chance of half, and the tentative miss set the tone for the rest of the match.
After halftime, Richmond attempted to control the play to start the half. It paid off.
A Richmond attacker made his way into the box, and Santiago Castano thought it would be a good idea to throw himself on the player to prevent a scoring chance. While this worked, the referee wasn't having anything and awarded Richmond a penalty. The ball in this case did in fact tell the truth, and Castano guessed the wrong way leading to a goal from Brian Ownby.
The Red Bulls would slowly proceed to press as hard as they could. Richmond held, and continued to hold, and it led to comical chances for the Baby Bulls. In the 63rd minute, Abang dribbled into the box, his shot was deflected. Karl Ouimette then collected the ball, faked a defender, faked a shot, got open then FINALLY shot the ball. It went past the keeper but ANOTHER Richmond player was in the vicinity, clearing the ball off the line. The ball then went right to Derrick Etienne who took a shot, which was promptly deflected. It was frustrating.
A side effect of the press was the vulnerability of the counterattack. Richmond had two or three really good counters, which almost led to this game featuring a 2-0 or 3-0 scoreline. There was one instance where Andrew Jean-Baptiste just blew his coverage, and then Santiago Castano blew covering the goal, which led to Andrew Jean-Baptiste having to clear the ball off the line miraculously.
Another side effect of the press was the abundance of free kicks the Baby Bulls earned. No one player was taking set pieces, as I believe Sean Davis, Anatole Abang, Derrick Etienne, and Manolo Sanchez took at least one free kick. I'm sure there were more.
These matches are no fun to watch, but getting MLS guys experience is nice. Karl Ouimette, Sean Davis, and Franklin Castellanos shined today. Etienne had a much better second half than first, and neither Colin Heffron nor Tyler Adams made the final 18, due to continuing injuries.
How did you feel about the match? Do you like Castano's style of play? Did the Rangers winning tonight in Pittsburgh matter more to you?