It is now crunch time.
NYRB II beat Louisville City 3-2 at home to give the team 42 points with only two games to play. Bolu Akinyode scored his first professional goal, to give NYRB II the ahead goal in the 83rd minute.
The result leaves NYRB II in 3rd place. The playoff pictures in the Eastern Conference looks like this after today's result:
|3. New York Red Bulls II||26||12||8||6||42|
|4. Charleston Battery||26||10||6||10||40|
|5. Richmond Kickers||26||9||7||10||37|
|6. Charlotte Independence||25||9||6||10||37|
|7. Pittsburgh Riverhounds||25||10||9||6||36|
|8. Harrisburg City Islanders||24||10||10||4||34|
NYRB II will play at FC Montreal on Sept. 9, and end the season on the road in Rochester on Sept. 19. NYRB II has never made the USL playoffs, and in addition, has never missed the USL playoffs. NYRB II look primed to make the playoffs, and a win against FC Montreal should all but lock it up. Nothing is for granted though, and some results going NYRB II's way before going on the road to Rochester would be advantageous.
As for the match itself, NYRB II rode a fantastic second half to come back from a 2-1 deficit against one of the league's best offense and road teams.
Louisville, fighting for a first round bye in the 2015 playoffs, opened the score early. Niall McCabe, who had been abusing Colin Heffron on the right side all first half, scored 19 minutes into the game, and as David Gass mentioned on the broadcast, Louisville has not lost all season when scoring in a match.
NYRB II put the pedal on the gas after going down, and their efforts were rewarded in the 26th minute. Shawn McLaws floated a cross into the box, which Stefano Bonomo deflected right to Manolo Sanchez. Sanchez tapped the ball into the net, and it was a tied game. It should be noted that Bonomo, McLaws, and Sanchez were RBNY's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round draft picks in 2015.
Matt Fondy, the leading goalscorer in USL, slipped past the NYRB II defense in the 40th minute giving him a league leading 22nd goal of the year.
In the second half NYRB II committed to the press, and Daniel Bedoya rewarded the team with a stunning free-kick goal around the 70th minute. NYRB II had been piling the pressure, and won a free kick just outside the box.
After tying the game NYRB II were not content to take away only one point at home, and kept up the intensity for the final 20 minutes. Louisville were playing on their heels, and NYRB II managed to score a third in the 86th minute from Bolu Akinyode.
The final nine minutes featured Louisville desperately trying to get one back, but Santiago Castano making a huge save to end the game. New York takes the three points, and puts themselves in the drivers seat to make the playoffs.
1. Bolu Akinyode has had a week
First he gets a nice profile on Once a Metro, then he gets the start in his preferred position with his favorite DM partner against Louisville. After that he plays all 90 minutes, really well. Finally, he scored the emphatic game winner late in the game for his first ever professional goal.
Take a lap Bolu, you earned it this week.
2. In game adjustments were key
The NYRB II defense in the first half was akin to a ship with a few small holes in it: leaky. Cliche's aside, NYRB II allowed Louisville's scorers plenty of space, and the offsides trap was just not working. Colin Heffron had a half he would like to forget, and Louisville focused their attack on the right side. It worked. They scored two first half goals, when players just found a way behind the defense far too easily.
Also, the NYRB II offense lacked a punch to start the game. The commitment to the high press in the face of adversity wasn't there, and the team was willing to let Louisville dictate play. Coach Wolyniec must have said something at halftime, because that all changed in the second half. NYRB II stuck to their system, controlled play, and scored two great goals because of the press.
The first was scored on a free kick won from super-sub Daniel Bedoya drawing a foul. He and Speedy Williams were a ball of energy that could not be contained. Bedoya took his own free kick and made sure the score accurately reflected the team's second half play. The final goal was scored because Louisville were content to keep the tie and NYRB II wanted all three points. Relentless pressing in the second half led to a tired Louisville team unable to contain the New York midfield.
3. Peaking at the right time
NYRB II is currently on a three game winning streak, and is 6-1-2 in their last nine. They are firmly holding the 3rd spot in the conference, and look to host one of the first round playoff games in 2015. The team looks dangerous and is firing on all cylinders going into the end of the season. Players have noted the team is coming together, and it could not come at a better time.