Anatole Abang, Roy Miller, and Ronald Zubar are the story.
Well, for some, the story will be the final score, which was 1-1, and the team's record, which is 9-8-6, but that's seeing the trees instead of the forest.
Today's midweek USL match allowed three rotation players for the Red Bulls to get valuable playing time, as all three are in different spots this season.
Anatole Abang, played 66 minutes, the most he has played in a competitive match since July 4 against Columbus. Since that game Abang has played a total of 69 minutes in MLS. Jesse Marsch, opting to keep his striker fresh, threw him out against the Charlotte Independence. He did not get the chances he would have liked, but game action for the young Cameroonian is fantastic.
Roy Miller played the first half, his first game action since June 20. Miller has been relegated to the bench since the emergence of Kemar Lawrence, but recently has been busy having a child and on international duty. Miller did not look... good. There is probably a lot of rust here, so getting 45 minutes in USL will help. It remains to be seen where Miller ultimately lies on the left back depth chart, and whether Anthony Wallace has overtaken him.
Ronald Zubar, only played 35 minutes, but it was necessary. The less that is said about Zubar's disappointment of a season is probably better, but hopefully this is a sign of progress for the Frenchman. Zubar is a quality center back, and the sooner he can be helping RBNY, the better.
Anyway, as for the game itself. NYRB II gave up a goal 22 minutes in, on a Santiago Castano mistake. During the second half, the good guys looked better, and scored in the 72nd minute when Stefano Bonomo headed a Speedy Williams ball into the back of the net. The rest of the game played out and the scoreline remained 1-1. NYRB II is tied with the Richmond Kickers for fourth place, though Richmond has one game in hand.
Three things we learned
1. Stefano Bonomo scored!
The second round pick has been all over this year. No, like he literally was all over Europe trying to find a job. He didn't sign with the Red Bulls after being drafted, and after some failed trials ended up in USL. He came on today and immediately provided a spark for a lethargic team that was a bit disjointed. No one had really played together and it showed. As more of the USL players got subbed on, the cohesion returned. Stefano Bonomo scored after a lovely ball into the box from Speedy Williams. It would be nice if Bonomo played his butt off the rest of this season and got an MLS contract next year. He's an intriguing false 9.
2. More midweek matches
Okay, hear me out. The team looked disjointed, and there weren't many people there, but these games are great. Abang, Miller, and Zubar are just three MLS regulars that could use some time playing competitive minutes. Midweek matches allow guys to play 45-60 minutes and still be fresh for the weekend match, with little disruption if used correctly. In this instance the Red Bulls had three players just inserted into a lineup that was starting to gel, so maybe staggering their time could have been more productive results-wise. As we have said before, this team isn't about results. Let's get guys like Sean Davis time in midweek matches as he sits on the bench for RBNY.
3. Santiago Castano, woof
Castano did not have a good first half. He was caught out of position three times in the span of about 30 minutes. One of those times, Charlotte got the ball behind him and scored an easy empty net goal. Castano has still improved tremendously this season, and when you are developing a young keeper, there are going to be times when you have games like this. Castano is only 20 years old, even though it feels like he has been around for a long time. He was much calmer in the second half, which is the important takeaway tonight. This game did not feel like the norm, thankfully.