That is all it took for NYRB II to take the lead it never relinquished against Toronto FC II.
After a back-and-forth first half, NYRB II brought on Bolu Akinyode as fresh legs for the back four in the second half. Akinyode has been playing in the defensive mid role more recently for NYRB II alongside Speedy Williams. Despite playing left back in the second half, Akinyode pushed high alongside DM partner Williams, before sending a beautiful cross into the box where Stefano Bonomo buried the ball into the goal.
After Bonomo's strike, NYRB II had a few chances to get an insurance goal in the second half, but none found the net until a cheeky free kick from the good guys.
In the 77th minute, Marius Obekop was fouled and went down. NYRB II quickly took the free kick, before TFC II could get set up, with Speedy Williams calmly collecting the ball and firing it past a stunned Toronto team from outside the box.
Shortly after the goal, Adam Bouchard of TFC II collected his second yellow card of the game, being sent off. It ended any chance of a comeback for the home side, as NYRB II collected all three points.
Once again, NYRB II wore down an opponent and TFC II were very exhausted and frustrated by the end of the match. They may not have been able to implement the high press as well as they have in the past, but NYRB II made their opponent work for 90 minutes, and it paid off.
The result bolstered NYRB II's playoff push, giving the team a 10-8-6 record for the season. NYRB II is in a three way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference, after the Richmond Kickers secured a win as well. All three teams have 36 points, and the Charleston Battery remain in third, while the Kickers retain fourth, and NYRB II in fifth after if goal differential is factored in.
1. Marius Obekop shows inconsistent flashes of first team talent
I really like Marius Obekop. I think that if NYRB II were around when he came here as a 19 year old, he'd be firmly established in the first team. Obekop showed some flashes on the wing today, with a few great point blank shots on goal that were saved, but I think ultimately he is a striker. I just don't know if the Red Bulls will re-sign him after this season, given the glut of wingers we have, and the willingness to play him on the wing in USL. He just doesn't consistently dominate a game at this level, which you would like to see out of a consistent first team loanee.
2. Santiago Castano has been inconsistent, and that is okay
Castano had a rough first half, even though he made some fantastic acrobatic saves to keep the game scoreless. That is to be expected from a 20 year old, still developing keeper. Castano needs a coach to get on him for coming out of his net, a habit he seemingly curtailed for the middle stretch of this season. His athleticism is not to be denied, with some great fingertip saves on TFC II. Castano absolutely deserved his clean sheet with the saves made, but he did not make it easy on himself. Given Castano's age and lack of game experience the past two years, this is to be expected, and one of the things to watch over the final stretch of the season.
3. TFC II was very unlucky
Both NYRB II and TFC II are developmental teams. The means in which each franchise is serving this development are very different. While both NYRB II and TFC II loan first team players down to get experience, NYRB II have mostly been signing players that serve to be on the first team's radar and give them professional playing time in the Red Bulls' system, while TFC II gives professional contracts to players mostly from their academy. The results haven't come for TFC II, but you can see the cohesion growing there. It is just another example of the advantage of USL to MLS clubs.