A week after THAT kick made Romeo Parkes famous and unemployed, the New York Red Bulls II are back in action against Richmond Kickers...because of course they are.
The reserve-team Red Bulls are carrying the flag for the club at the moment, since the first team keeps tripping over itself. While RBNY has been inconsistent and often simply bad, NYRB II has enjoyed a positive start to its season in USL. Currently, the second team is third in the USL Eastern Conference, and has just one loss in its first seven games of the season. Last week's match might only be remembered for Karl Ouimette's lucky escape from serious injury, but it was also a characteristically buoyant, free-scoring performance from the II team.
Fair to say the entire club is hoping for more of the same against Richmond (without the career-threatening incident of last week's run-out in Pittsburgh). The Red Bulls' reserves are playing positive, eventful (usually for the right reasons), attractive soccer - and, unlike their first team counterparts - they're mostly winning.
RBNY played in DC yesterday, so it is conceivable a few of the unused or underused players from that game might drift into the NYRB II squad that plays Richmond. The club's usual pattern is to throw out a late press release identifying any unexpected first team faces that will be appearing with the reserves. It wouldn't be surprising to see Gideon Baah handed another start to continue his journey back to match fitness; Kyle Reynish played for NYRB II last week and could presumably do so again this week; Sean Davis was an unused sub in DC, and might benefit from competitive minutes; Alex Muyl got 20 minutes against DC, so assume he'll be following recovery routines for the weekend.
RBNY has US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League approaching, so the reserves may find themselves hosting fringe first-teamers for the next several weeks, as Jesse Marsch ponders squad rotation options for what (he surely hopes) could be a busy summer. USL players can also be loaned up to the first team for those tournaments, which makes the next four to six weeks of reserve team play an important chance for the back-ups to assert their case for inclusion in RBNY's plans.
But for the purposes of this preview, assume the 18 that went to DC will not be considered eligible for minutes against Richmond. Anatole Abang was a notable absentee from the MLS squad yesterday: if he isn't playing against the Kickers, he's either injured or much more on the outs with Jesse Marsch than had previously been imagined.
NYRB II doesn't quite pick itself, but one would hope to see Abang paired with Brandon Allen up top and supported by Derrick Etienne and Junior Flemmings on the flanks.
Some combination of Speedy Williams, Dan Metzger, Tyler Adams should staff the central midfield. The team seems to currently prefer Justin Bilyeu at left back (and he may get another first team call up shortly, if Kemar Lawrence has fallen out of Jesse Marsch's favor), Konrad Plewa at right back, and all sorts of options in the center of defense.
With Ouimette presumably still injured, Baah likely to be deemed no longer in need of the reserve team, and Zach Carroll recently waived from the MLS squad (though he may return to USL later in the season), this observer would like to see Plewa pushed over to center back and paired with Timothy Schmoll. It would be nice to see full back Noah Powder return to the starting lineup for NYRB II, assuming he's available for selection at the moment.
In goal, while one accepts the need to keep Reynish sharp for the first team, it is to be hoped the team returns to exploring the talents of Rafa Diaz, who has looked an able and exciting prospect since Ryan Meara's injury handed him a reserve-team starting opportunity.
The Kickers have had an up-and-down start to their season: four wins in four games at home; just one point from four road trips to date. They have been getting most of their attacking productivity this season from Yudai Imura (three goals to date) and Brian Ownby (two assists). But mostly, think of Richmond's trip to Red Bull Arena as the capper on Hate DC Week: the Kickers are DC United's USL affiliate squad.
Once A Metro hopes the reserves can succeed where the first team failed this weekend.
4:00 pm on Saturday, May 14.
Red Bull Arena
How to Watch:
YouTube or NewYorkRedBulls.com
RBNY 2-1 Kickers: Richmond hasn't been losing by much on its travels; expect a close game to be shaded by the home team.