UPDATE Here's the starting lineup.
New York Red Bulls II play their first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match in team history tonight against the Jersey Express at the New Jersey Institute of Technology at 8 p.m. The Express play in the Premier Development League (same division at the New York Red Bulls U23s) and defeated New York Greek Americans, 3-0, in the last round of the cup.
The Express qualified for the Open Cup after a successful 2014 season that saw the club finish first in the Mid Atlantic Division of the Easter Conference with a 10-3-1 record and advance to the National Semi-Finals where they lost to the Michigan Bucks (the eventual champions), 2-1. In their first PDL match this season, the Express fell to the Long Island Rough Riders, 2-1.
The club retained their All-Conference defender Kouasi Sylvain N'guessan and their roster includes notable players from the area such as former New Jersey High School Player of the Year Brayan Martinez and Rutgers striker Juan Pablo Correa.
The Jersey Express, formerly the Newark Ironbound Express, formed in 2007 and have featured many local players who have gone on to professional careers. Two New York Red Bulls II players will be going up against their former club: Franklin Castellanos and goalkeeper Rafi Diaz spent time with the Express while they were in college. The Express also rostered other notable Red Bulls players such as Gordon Kljestan, Jerrod Laventure, and Ryan Meara.
The Baby Bulls, managed by John Wolyniec and Ibrahim Sekagya, are currently 2-4-3 in USL.
Talking with Bill Gaudette
We interviewed Express assistant coach and former New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Bill Gaudette about the club and he provided a glimpse into what fans can expect tonight.
How is the season going so far for the Express?
It's early. Obviously, two games in, tough result over the weekend, you know, but obviously it's -- there's a lot of bright and -- you know, you just got to take the positives and the bright spots out of the match and move on to the next. That's the great part about having, you know, maybe a little bit of, you know, work to do in the beginning of the season. So it's -- there's a lot of positives we're going to take out of the match and kind of move on from there.
What is the makeup of the team?
Most of these guys are college guys that came in for their off-season work, and then we have -- we sprinkled on, you know, a few guys here and there that are either out of college or have been out for a while that want to be a part of the club.
Is the league or the Open Cup viewed as the priority?
It's a chance to represent, and obviously this club's built a pretty good tradition and history with a lot of hard work, so there's no real priority. I mean, every game's important. Every time we train is important. You know, we're trying to create an atmosphere of, you know, a good, professional environment, so we try to take it as seriously as we can, you know, every training session, every game. So it doesn't matter if it's, you know, U.S. Open Cup or a league game. We're looking at it with the same, you know, outlook, to go out there and perform well and hopefully get a good result.
Is there a lot of roster turnover every year for the club?
Yeah, there's a good amount of turnover, to be honest. I mean, obviously, with kids graduating, different plans throughout the summer, you know, opportunities for these guys maybe do -- to go train, you know, somewhere else abroad and things like that, so there's definitely some turnover, which makes it a little more difficult than, you know, your average professional environment, where you have a good amount of core guys returning, which you'd like to have, at least.
So it can be a little challenging, but that's the exciting part, you know? We're out here really just trying to develop these guys. They want to get a glimpse into what professional, you know, soccer is at a day-to-day level. And I'm trying to share my experiences with them to hopefully get them the same opportunities that I had to go out there and play and, you know, be a professional athlete for many years and kind of enjoy the experience, because it's getting harder and harder to become a pro in the U.S. I think the league's getting better and better, and the quality is getting better and better, so, you know, it takes more of a commitment, more year-round commitment. So it's something I'm just trying to share my experiences with and go out there and have a little fun with the guys.
What will the lineup look like?
It's going to be USL contract players and Academy kids.
There's going to be a shortage of players during the summer due to fixture congestion and international play, and if MLS players play tonight for NYRB II, they will be cup-tied and unable to play for the senior squad. As Austin "Thunder" Fido pointed out, someone like center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste cannot appear for NYRB II because the MLS squad will need him available for the Open Cup in June.
However, I wouldn't be shocked to see a few of the players on long-term loans to the USL squad (like Santiago Castano and Shawn McLaws) appear tonight. It all depends what Jesse Marsch means by "no players will be loaned." We'll see if that means "no short term loans" or "no players from the senior squad will play tonight."
Regardless, tonight will be a good opportunity for players on USL contracts and Academy players to get more match experience.
Will the match be streamed?
What happens if they win?
If the Baby Bulls win, they will take on the New York Cosmos at St. John's University's Belson Stadium on May 27th at 7:30 p.m.