Last time I wrote New York Red Bulls II taking on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds I said it could get ugly. I didn't realize how right I was and I certainly didn't mean it in the fashion which it occurred.
What happened that game was unfortunate to say the least, there are no two ways around it. However, both teams seem to understand the severity of the incident seem to not hold any real animosity against each other.
Yet, NYRBII could use some animosity. Entertaining soccer is all well and good, but storylines and rivalries are what really draw out the crowds. Passion breeds passion. With Pittsburgh New York is presented with a team that is relatively close geographically and one which has a reason for genuine reason for animosity to exist between the two. With New York Red Bulls II likely drawing a much larger crowd due to the double header, what better time to start a rivalry?
In terms of team news, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds are in even worse shape this time around. They have still only won one game this year. Their leading goalscorer Romeo Parkes has been released for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, they've had a head coaching change, relieving Mark Steffens of his duties while appointing Dave Brandt, the former Navy coach, as his replacement. Unless the former Midshipman's head coach can turn around the ship quickly (that was an atrocious pun and I apologize), Pittsburgh could be in for a very long season.
New York Red Bulls II, on the other hand, look to be on the up and up. Despite Anatole Abang, Derrick Etienne, and Noah Powder all being absent due to international duty, NYRBII chugs along. The addition of David Najem and the increasing role of Zoumana Simpara give New York additional options in midfield while Cheikh M'Baye and Zach Carroll establishing themselves in center defense allow Aaron Long, Konrad Plewa, and Justin Bilyeu to focus on the outside backs. Brandon Allen continues to run cold, but the team manages to squeeze out their goals where they can find them, due in no small part to Junior Flemmings being one of the best players in USL despite playing out of position.
10 pm Saturday the 28th. It's a doubleheader at Red Bull Arena, starting after the New York Red Bulls face Toronto FC.
Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey.
How to watch:
USL's youtube, here, or at the stadium for only $8 (or for free if you stay from the first game).
Predicted starting XI's:
New York Red Bulls II- Noah Powder and Derrick Etienne look to be away for international duty. Other than those absences the entire team should be available. The left wing spot is a huge question mark in Etienne's absence. Any number of players, Najem, Simpara, Saramago, could fill the positional void. If Sean Davis doesn't feature Saturday night for the first team look for him to play with NYRBII.
Ryan Meara; Justin Bilyeu, Zach Carroll, Tim Schmoll, Konrad Plewa; Tyler Adams, 'Speedy' Williams; Zoumana Simpara, Stefano Bonomo, Junior Flemmings; Brandon Allen
Pittsburgh Riverhounds- No Romeo Parkes this time around, and with a new coach in town the lineup is really a tossup.
Mauricio Vargas- Isaiah Schafer, Sergio Campbell, Willie Hunt, Jordan Murrell; Zak Boggs, James Bissue, Ben Swanson, Kevin Kerr (c); Marshall Hollingsworth - Romeo Parkes
1-0 with the lone goal Junior Flemmings.