Whenever I play pickup basketball, there's always one person who is on your team and tries to "out fancy" everyone to look cool. That means they'll dribble just once too much, or shoot a 25 foot jumper contested by 2 people to show off.
NYRB II kind of felt that way tonight.
Look, it's the middle of July and it's very hot in New Jersey. Also, sometimes chances just don't fall your way. That was kind of the mood tonight.
NYRB II had chances all game, but none of them really challenged Nick Noble, the Harrisburg keeper, in a way that made it seem like it deserved to be a tie game. Whether it be an extra dribble, which allowed a defender to catch up, or a pass that just doesn't meet its target on time, it felt like that kind of game.
In the 89' minute the team had a great sequence where they pressured Harrisburg -- they pressed hard -- but unfortunately passed the ball around the box five times and could not get a clean look on goal.
By that time the team was down 2-0.
The team is now 6-7-4 on the season, and drop down to 7th in the Eastern Conference, just outside the playoff picture. It is a great time to remind everyone that results for this team don't matter.
Harrisburg scored in the 22' and 86' minutes, the latter being a penalty kick after Konrad Plewa stopped a breakaway by taking down a Harrisburg player in the box. The first goal came after Bolu Akinyode misplayed a long ball from Harrisburg, that Craig Foster, in his debut, scooped up and put past Kyle Reynish.
In the second half, Harrisburg was very content to put 10 behind the ball and defend like hell, NYRB II could not find a way to break through, depriving the team of a goal scored for their second straight game.
Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was subbed out for Rafael Diaz in the 74th minute. This game would have had a different scoreline if it weren't for Diaz. He made 2 or 3 big saves coming in cold, and could do nothing on the penalty given to Harrisburg late. Stellar performance from the St. John's alum.
NYRB II will travel out to Harrisburg on Jul. 18 for the second game in a home-and-home with the Islanders.
1. Lack of clean finishing
This team lacks a striker that can take over a game and find a way to score. Anatole Abang is a full time regular for the MLS squad, and Derrick Etienne's finishing has been sorely missed by the team. The past two weeks has seen teams content to sit back and just defend against the Red Bulls' high press. The press only works when you can generate goals and maintain possession. Two counterattacks proved to be all it took to disrupt this Baby Bulls and give Harrisburg a 2-0 win.
2. Tyler Adams keeps impressing
Tyler Adams had a heck of defensive first half, and tried like hell to get involved in the offense during the second 45. After missing time in the beginning of the season due to injuries and time spent with the U.S. U-17 National Team, Adams has found his stride playing with Dan Metzger. Signing for NYRB II must have been a tough decision for Adams, as he is no longer college eligible, but he's in an environment where he is getting playing time against guys 5-6 years older than him, and he is out muscling them. He's not close to the first team... yet, the more playing time for Adams the better.
3. Logjam at midfield
The attacking midfield trio of Obekop-Stolz-Sanchez disappointed today. Stolz seemed invisible, and the only times I noticed him were when he was drifting out wide, taking up the space that Obekop and Sanchez should have occupied. This was the best college player in the country last year, and was seen as the most MLS ready in the draft and a steal for the Red Bulls. Now it looks like he's almost lost in USL play and still has not made an appearance for the MLS team, unlike Manolo Sanchez and Marius Obekop. Speaking of the two wingers, they apparently switched sides at halftime. It didn't really make a difference, as neither really controlled play on their side pushing forward like they have in previous games. They tried to get Chris Tsonis chances, but no one could convert today.