What an amazing USL Season it has been so far for head coach John Wolyniec and the NYRB II: a record-breaking regular season brought the team the USL Shield, and now it has the chance to make its first appearance in a USL Cup final. To do that, it must find a way past Louisville City FC, the second-best team in the league this year.
"We feel it's going to be a great experience for our guys. It's going to be a hell of a game; us and Louisville City have been going at it with each from afar all year long," said NYRB II head coach John Wolyniec, "They had a lead in the Eastern Conference, then we took over and kept that spot all season long. They are a very good team and we respect a lot of what they do. It's going to be the same level of challenge as Rochester."
This could be a game where you will see two different styles of play. We all know about the press system that the Red Bulls want to play and play it fast. James O'Connor's side wants to hold the ball and pass it around before they find the hole to attack the net and create something. NYRB II likes to attack possession-based teams; Louisville likes to attack the sort of space the Red Bulls leave open as they seek to pin their opponent in its own half.
Wolyniec has been tasked with fashioning a winning team from a seemingly constantly changing lineup. Over the course of the season, he hasn't just pushed his team to rack up more regular-season points than any in USL had ever done before, he has also brought through a crop of promising players with roots in RBNY's Academy. Prospects like Brandon Allen, Derrick Etienne, Tyler Adams, and Dan Metzger have progressed visibly this season. While Sean Davis and Alex Muyl have moved into the ranks of the first team.
"My approach has always been to try not to change too much. I try to instill to the players that every opportunity when you step on the field is one to take advantage of and try to put all your efforts in - and that's the way you get the most out of it. When you have that approach then the outcome gets easy, because there's no change. You work as hard as you can, try to keep tactics all the same and try to be consistent with the formation and all that, so they can feel there is a bit consistency: so they know the job that they have to do."
His approach has his team one game away from the USL Cup final. This has been a special season for NYRB II, and it will be remembered as such whether the next game is won or lost. Of course, it will be more special if the game is won and there is a Cup final to be played next week.
So everyone remain inside Red Bull Arena and see the kids get their chance at some Eastern Conference silverware when the NYRB II side takes on Louisville City for the right to be called Eastern Conference Champions and play in the USL Cup final.
The match will kick off at 6:30 pm at Red Bull Arena, after RBNY finishes up its MLS match against Columbus Crew. A double-header featuring last year's MLS Supporters' Shield winner and this year's USL regular season champion.