New York Red Bulls II entered the post-season as they exited the regular season: with a short-handed team of winners. The match-day squad for the team's first playoff game of 2016 was one short of the permitted 18.
Five of those players are teenagers, and two of those teenagers (Kevin O'Toole and Noah Powder) are still amateurs. But the entire squad has contributed significantly to the II team's record-setting regular-season title. This was evident against an Orlando City B team that has its own shared of talented players, but has not gelled into anything approaching the sort of unit John Wolyniec has created in 2016.
The Red Bulls dominated the match from start to finish. The only question was whether the team's consistent failure to convert pressure into goals would cost it the win it clearly deserved. Despite near-total control of the first half, the score after 45 minutes was merely 1-0 to the II team - and that goal came largely because OCSC B completely failed to defend a corner, after repelling a series of RBNY attacks.
As long as there was only a goal between the sides, there was a chance OCSC B could find a way back into the game. Vincent Bezecourt seemed to make the game safe in the 60th minute.
It was another highlight-reel strike for a player who has made a habit of finding the net in spectacular fashion this season in USL.
In the 62nd minute, Harrison Heath made the game safer by getting himself sent off.
It was hard to see how OCSC B could get back into the match from two goals and a man down with 30 minutes to play. Sure enough, it didn't.
Brandon Allen created a goal for himself about a minute after Heath had left the field.
Then Aaron Long capped his day with his second and his team's fourth.
That is how it finished: 4-0 to the home team.
NYRB II rolls on to the semifinals of the USL Eastern Conference playoffs, where it can expect a sterner test. Next up: Rochester Rhinos, the reigning USL Cup holder, and an opponent the II team has never beaten.
The match will be played on Friday, October 7 at 7:00 pm at Red Bull Arena. Tickets available online, by phone or at the stadium.