While the rest of the country was probably watching the USA-Panama third place game in the Gold Cup, NYRB II and the Richmond Kickers played a 4-3 thriller.
A few of the regulars including Marius Obekop, Leo Stolz, Tyler Adams, Manolo Sanchez and Dan Metzger were not present in the lineup, presumably to be used in Sunday's New York Red Bulls friendly against Portuguese Champions S.L. Benfica. This opened up spots for U18 academy products Juan Sebastian Sanchez, Ethan Lochner, and Henry Martin in the lineup, and all three appeared for NYRB II.
NYRB II got on the board in the 11th minute when a long-range shot by Chris Tsonis hit off a defender and past the Richmond goalie. It was Tsonis' third goal of the season.
In the next six minutes, the game fell apart for the Red Bulls. Richmond floated two crosses into the box, which were connected with headers that froze Santiago Castano. The high press had been working for the Red Bulls, but two counterattacks were all that it took to give Richmond a lead.
Castano has been improving a lot over the season, and the scoreline is not fully a reflection of that. The 20 year-old has looked much more confident in the frame, rarely relying on coming out to stop breakaways. He stuck to his gut this week, and Richmond scored two perfect goals in the first half, and I'll get to the third goal soon.
After signing a homegrown contract in 2013, Castano has had not much game action to come by, with the sporadic nature of the of the MLS reserve league. This season has given Castano regular action for the first time in two years, and he's going to have games like this one.
Anyway, after going down 2-1, NYRB II continued to keep the high press. The game opened up in the final 20 minutes of the half, and in the 39th minute new signing Speedy Williams connected on a long shot, that academy product Juan Sanchez deflected into the goal. The goal capped a nice few minutes for Williams, who to use a football manager term "bossed the midfield," in that stretch.
Not to be outdone, NYRB II continued to press looking for a third goal. In stoppage time, Bolu Akinyode, broke up a Richmond Kickers sequence, and found Colin Heffron on a long ball. Heffron dribbled to the touchline and crossed the ball into the six yard box, where Chris Tsonis was waiting to complete the brace.
In the second half, the game opened up as Richmond searched for an equalizer.
NYRB II took advantage of this, and ground down the opposition like they did against Harrisburg. Konrad Plewa, who looks good when pushing higher, connected with Daniel Bedoya on a long ball in the 80th. Bedoya beat the Richmond backline, as well as the keeper, scoring NYRB II's fourth goal of the night.
Late in the game Richmond managed get a goal back, after an odd-man rush led to the Kickers pressing in the box. Enough NYRB II defenders remained around Castano, which caused him to stay in his frame rather than come out to cut off the defender. A perfectly placed strike gave the opposition a third goal, completing the game.
Overall, an exciting match in USL. NYRB II is now 8-7-4 on the season.
1. In game adjustments
John Wolyniec deserves a lot of credit. Jesse Marsch agrees. NYRB II this year has looked solid, and look like playoff contenders. The biggest thing from this game was the adjustments the team made after going down 2-1. The team did not abandon the high press and continued the game plan. After opening up the game in the second half, NYRB II hunkered down a bit and targeted their counter attacks to grind down Richmond and force them to play an open game and tire them out in the New Jersey heat. Just like the senior team, the conditioning on NYRB II cannot be discredited. The team did not fade, and are powering through the summer doldrums well. Richmond played most of the game narrow, collapsing on one side of the field. The team recognized it, and the game was played open, leading to four goals.
2. NYRB II is saving careers
Many of the USL signings for NYRB II, outside of Tyler Adams, are former college standouts in the New York/New Jersey area, or former Red Bull Academy players not offered homegrown contracts. The progress of Konrad Plewa, Bolu Akinyode, Daniel Bedoya, and Daniel Metzger as former academy players cannot be denied. And USL has given Colin Heffron, Jamie Thomas, Chris Tsonis, and Mike Da Fonte another chance to continue their soccer careers. USL is working for RBNY, but it is also working to develop players not on MLS teams radar previously.
3. Hey academy players
It is always nice when academy players get to play for the USL team. Juan Sebastian Sanchez started, and Ethan Lochner and Henry Martin made their way into the game in the second half. NYRB II has had a lot of the U16s featuring sporadically off the bench, although the U18s started featuring after getting knocked out of the USSDA Academy playoffs. As many of the U18s start heading off the college, it will be interesting to see if more of graduating U16 players will start featuring again.