This game will be remembered for one thing: Romeo Parkes' shocking attack on Karl Ouimette. It happened as the match was winding down, just a question of what sort of injury time would be added and then everyone could get on with their respective Saturday nights. But Parkes kicked Ouimette in the back with what looked like unrestrained ferocity, the defender lay motionless on the turf until he was stretchered off, and the preceding 88 minutes were rendered irrelevant.
Reaction to the incident has been swift, both in the media, from fans and observers, and from official channels: Parkes was suspended by USL and fired by Pittsburgh in less time than it took to produce this match report.
The irony of Parkes' action is that it obscured a game in which he had been a positive highlight (the greater irony is that he has threatened a career in US pro soccer that was starting extremely well for him): he was going to be mentioned in all the reports written about this game because he scored its first goal - in the 10th minute - and because that was his fifth goal in his last five games. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds haven't been great in that span (three ties and two losses, including this 1-3 defeat by NYRB II), but Parkes had been sensational.
Until the 88th minute of this game, he was an emerging star of a league that has positioned itself (insofar as it is effectively the MLS reserve league these days) as the home of American soccer's emerging stars. Now he will be fortunate if he plays again in USL this season.
From the perspective of the New York Red Bulls, the game had been going pretty well also.
Up to the moment Parkes lashed out at Ouimette, pretty much all the apparent objectives of the match had been met. Ouimette and 'keeper Kyle Reynish were loaned down to the reserve team,perhaps to get competitive minutes in advance of US Open Cup (which will start for RBNY in June, and may feature back-up players in certain positions, at least for the early rounds). Or perhaps they were in the team to surround Gideon Baah with familiar faces from first-team training.
Baah's recovery from injury saw him handed his second consecutive reserve-team start, and he played a little longer (67 minutes instead of 45) than he had in his first appearance for NYRB II. He also played with fewer errors, though if the objective of the exercise was in part to see how he looked alongside Ouimette - you wouldn't necessarily have identified Baah as the first-team starter of the center backs in the lineup.
Still, RBNY needs to get Baah fit and competing for minutes in MLS again, and that project continues to progress positively and visibly.
It was also a positive milestone in the development of rookie left back Justin Bilyeu, who picked up two assists on the night. His first provided NYRB II's equalizer - a deflected cross that Anatole Abang won in the air under pressure to nudge home his second reserve-team goal of the season.
Bilyeu also provided the service for the team's go-ahead goal. In the 72nd minute, a low cross skimmed through the six-yard box for Stefano Bonomo to tap in (Bonomo is a striker again it would appear; last week's CB experiment is on hold).
And finally, the team's two live-wire players - Derrick Etienne and Junior Flemmings - combined for a highlight-reel capper. Both men have the ability to make difficult things look easy on a soccer field. In the 82nd minute, Flemmings seemed to have run out of room on the byline, but conjured a perfect cross to Etienne in front of goal. At least, Etienne made it look perfect: his volleyed finish was clinical.
Cool, calm and collected finish by red hot Derrick Etienne Jr. for @NYRBII! #PGHvNY https://t.co/dnnNxTFfe7— USL (@USL) May 8, 2016
All told, three goals and three points was a good return from a road trip that started by giving up a goal in the first 10 minutes. The Red Bulls never really found a convincing rhythm on Highmark Stadium's bouncy artificial surface, but the team ultimately adapted well to the conditions.
NYRB II head coach John Wolyniec had plenty of reasons to be pleased with this performance, until around the 88th minute when Romeo Parkes lost his mind. And suddenly Karl Ouimette's immediate health and future career were the only concerns.
NYRB II next plays against Richmond Kickers on Saturday, May 14, at Red Bull Arena. Kick off is at 4:00 pm.