The New York Red Bulls U23s are in the Premier Development League semifinals, taking on the Ocala Stampede at 9 p.m. at the Starfire Sports Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The match will be streamed on the PDL's YouTube channel.
The winner of this match advances to the league championship which is on Sunday, July 2nd.
The Baby Bulls are in pursuit of their second straight national amateur championship after winning the NPSL Championship last season and switching to the PDL during the off-season.
What is the Ocala Stampede?
Based in Ocala, Florida, the Stampede were created in 2011 and play their home matches at MCYFL Stadium. They're a dominant team, having won the Southeast Division in all four years of their existence. This is the second straight season they've advanced to the national semifinals.
They have a prolific attack and a stingy defense. The Stampede is comprised of international players and a few college standouts.
How did they get here?
New York Red Bulls
Managed by Rob Elliott, the Baby Bulls fought their way through the tough Mid Atlantic Division, finishing first and going 9-2-3. They lost two consecutive games at the end of May/beginning of June, but have been on a tear and are unbeaten in their last eleven matches. The U23s ended the regular season with a 10-0 pounding of the Westchester Flames which helped them skip past the preliminary rounds of the playoffs. They won their Eastern Conference semifinal match with a 4-0 win over the GPS Portland Phoenix, and beat the Jersey Express, 2-1, in extra time.
The team is formidable, made up of a host of former Academy players and several unaffiliated college standouts. The Baby Bulls feature a diverse attack with many different weapons and a strong, seasoned defense.
The Stampede won the Southeast Division with an 8-3-3 record. They're on a seven match unbeaten streak and haven't lost since June. They won the Southern Conference Championship, beating Midland/Odessa Sockers, 1-0, in the semifinal, and the FC Miami City Champions, 2-0, in the final.
Key Players for Ocala
Lewis Hilton (midfielder): The Englishman plays his college ball for Division II school Young Harris College. He's a threat on offensive and scores and sets up goals in bunches. Hilton scored two goals during the Southern Conference Championship, both on penalties.
Paco Craig (defender): Another Englishman from Young Harris college, Craig is a tall, physical presence. He can also play in the midfield and, like Hilton, scores and assists in bunches when he's feeling up to it.
Ricardo Diegues (striker): A two-time All-American from UT-Brownsville (NAIA), Diegues is the Stampede's leading scorer, and he netted one during the Southern Conference Championship final. The word to describe Diegues is "dynamic": he can score from outside the box, in the air, and off the dribble.
- The Red Bulls aren't traveling with a full strength roster. Who is in the starting lineup?
- Just how good is Ocala?
- Who starts in goal for the Red Bulls, the veteran Michael Lansing (FC Delco/La Salle) or the young gun Joe Ohaus (PDA/Duke)?
How to watch
It's going to be streamed on YouTube and there's going to be a stream posted on the PDL's Twitter.