There is exciting, dynamic, and competitive soccer to be played at Red Bull Arena this weekend. While the New York Red Bulls continue to lounge at the bottom of MLS standing, having lost five of their first six games, their USL team, NYRBII, is shaking up the league.
This Sunday, the team takes on the reigning USL champions, the Rochester Rhinos. These are the very same Rhinos who knocked NYRBII out of the playoffs last year, a team with a very similar makeup as last year, and a team with the very same, very defensive style. However, New York Red Bulls II are a very different team from last year, and that's a good thing.
Many were critical of the team when they fully culled the roster after their inaugural season, letting solid players like Daniel Bedoya, Collin Heffron, and Bolu Akinyode walk. Only five players remained on the roster from the team that fell to Rochester in the second round of the playoffs. And yet, it seems to have paid off.
New York Red Bulls II enters Sunday with a solid core of players from last year leading and anchoring the team. Despite it only being three games into the season, the likes of Dan Metzger, 'Speedy' Williams, and Konrad Plewa have all looked incredibly reliable so far, while players returning in a different fashion like Derrick Etienne and Tyler Adams have continued to grow and shine.
Additionally, unlike their first team counterparts, NYRBII has been able to make their tactics work. Whether this is due to a plurality of talent, a lack of oppositional scouting and understanding, or a superiority of tactical nuance is completely open for analysis. What can be said is that New York Red Bulls II's fusion 4-2-3-1, 4-2-2-2 coupled with the club's signature high press is impressive to watch and certainly yields results.
That's what's so exciting about a developmental team like NYRBII, is that a fan gets to see young, talented players given the chance to play and grow in a competitive environment. John Wolyniec certainly wants to win, and the players will be better for it down the line if they've experienced success on the field as they developed off of it. And that makes NYRBII more than a fun developmental team to watch, it makes them an entertaining professional team to watch.
Will the New York Red Bulls II be able to break down the bunker that the formidable Rhinos form, or will Rochester's defensive tactics be too similar to those that have been working way too well against the first team? It remains to be seen. While the present day Red Bulls can be a bit exhausting to watch, NYRBII gives a fan a bit of respite while also providing a keen sense of hope for the future.
Red Bull Arena, tickets are general admission and are $10 ($8 for Red members).
4 pm Sunday the 17th.
How to watch:
If you can't make it to the game, catch it for free on Youtube. The USL streams all of their games for free from the league's Youtube channel. David Gass will be on the call though his color commentator is yet to be revealed.
Predicted starting XI's:
NYRBII- New York's roster will depend heavily on which first team loanees the team, a number significantly reduced as Alex Muyl, Tyler Adams, Sean Davis, and others are all on the road with the first team. Meanwhile, Noah Powder's Trinidad and Tobago U20 call-up may force him out of the lineup as he has to be in camp by Monday.
Ryan Meara; Noah Powder, Tim Schmoll, Konrad Plewa, Aaron Long; Dan Metzger, Devon 'Speedy' Williams; Derrick Etienne, Stefano Bonomo, Junior Flemmings; Brandon Allen
Rochester Rhinos: Thanks to Brendan Doherty of The Bent Musket for helping out here. Some notes: lineup subject to change depending on New England Revolution loanees (Michael Gamble this week), Jordan Becker may start at left back if Kamdem isn't deemed fit, and Steevan dos Santos (Duba) is likely start after returning from his suspension to start the year.
Adam Grinwis; Dom Samuel, Joe Farrell, Vasili Apostolopoulos, Bradley Kamdem; Mike Garzi, Sean Totsch; Ryan James, Kenardo Forbes, Michael Gamble; Duba
2-1 NYRBII with goals coming from Junior Flemmings and Tim Schmoll