Brandon Allen scored a hat-trick to pilot the New York Red Bulls II to a 4-2 road win over FC Montreal. Georgetown's all-time top scorer is now NYRB II's all-time top scorer: he has eight goals for the II team, one more than Anatole Abang - who has scored seven in limited appearances for the USL side over the last two seasons. And he is the first player to register a hat-trick for NYRB II.
It was a timely performance. First team head coach Jesse Marsch has admitted the Red Bulls are looking for attacking help. Though the suspicion is the club's decision to offload Lloyd Sam - one of its most effective attacking players since 2013 - is to create space for a new signing, the official line is that all options are open and Marsch has challenged others in the squad to step up. The fact Allen was playing in Montreal in USL the day before the first team is due to play at home against Portland indicates he remains outside RBNY's immediate plans for solving its current problems in MLS (three league games without a win), but scoring goals is a tried and tested way to win attention.
The other young attacker in the NYRB II lineup with a shot at MLS minutes this season also played well. Derrick Etienne was directly involved in three of the four goals: winning the penalty Allen put away in the 18th minute to open the scoring; firing in the free kick that eventually fell to Allen for NYRB II's second goal in the 24th minute; and setting up Junior Flemmings for the 47th-minute strike that turned out to be the match-winner.
Unlike Allen and Etienne, Flemmings is signed to NYRB II rather than RBNY, so is unlikely to find his way into the first team this year - but his fifth goal of the season was a reminder that the 20-year-old Jamaican is settling in very well to first season outside his home country.
FC Montreal currently has the worst record in USL: this was the team's 14th loss in 17 league games. NYRB II, conversely, is now unbeaten in its last 10 games, and has lost just once this season. It wasn't quite a worst-vs-first match-up, but it was close to it. The Red Bulls established a two-goal lead halfway through the first half, and never really looked back.
FC Montreal might take some consolation from scoring twice against NYRB II's surprisingly sturdy defense (the back line changes almost every game) - this is only the fourth time this season the Red Bulls' reserves have conceded more than one goal in a match, and they have kept 10 clean sheets in 17 USL matches. But Montreal's USL team is sticking faithfully to the mantra that reserve team results don't matter. We'll say the same about NYRB II if its form starts to flag, but right now the II team seems to be heating up: it has now scored 10 goals in its last four matches. Whether it matters or not, free-scoring, attacking soccer is fun to watch.
NYRB II will face a more challenging opponent next week. The team will stay on the road, traveling to face Charlotte Independence - the only team to beat the reserve Bulls so far this season in USL - on July 16.