New York Red Bulls II head coach has done wonders this season. He has his team running away with the USL Eastern Conference (and top of the overall standings), despite the fact he very rarely seems to be allowed to pick a lineup free of constraints and concerns of the first team.
NYRB II is a development squad, as is made clear almost every time it plays a match. Take the team's last outing, for example: left back Justin Bilyeu came off at half time and midfielder Tyler Adams was subbed out at around the hour mark of the game. Injury, fatigue or tactical need? Almost certainly not: those two players have MLS contracts, and were likely working to a managed-minutes plan to keep them fresh and available for RBNY (they also, as it happened, had been on the bench for the first team in the MLS match immediately preceding NYRB II's game against FC Cincinnati).
That is a very common occurrence with NYRB II. Wolyniec's primary task is to feed the first team's needs, both now and for the future. If RBNY has players who need minutes to get sharp: they get loaned down to NYRB II. If there are players who find form or develop quickly, they may get snapped up by the first team - as was the case with Alex Muyl this season. And there are always emerging Academy players who need to be introduced to the professional game via the reserves, as RBNY tries to assess who its next generation of homegrown pros will be.
Throw in the usual injuries - and the unusual injuries: Konrad Plewa is recovering from a stroke - and Wolyniec would be forgiven if NYRB II was little more than a congregation of talented players incapable of uniting as a team. But that is not the case. The reserve Red Bulls are very good this year, and they may shortly have a trophy or two to prove it. They play in a professional league - USL - in which many (but not all) teams are not hamstrung by reserve-team status. And they are on course to win the regular season title, at least.
Maybe. It would seem RBNY has decided it is time to ratchet up the degree of difficulty for Woly. No longer content with merely forcing him to shuffle his team around every week, it is now changing up and unbalancing the team's schedule. The Red Bulls have announced that NYRB II will give up home advantage for its match against Harrisburg City Islanders on September 7. The game will move from Red Bull Arena to Millersville University, where HCI is playing out the rest of its season.
The reason is sound, per RBNY's press release:
"In order to provide the highest quality field surface for both our USL and MLS teams as they hit the stretch runs of their seasons, we have agreed with Harrisburg to move our scheduled USL home match," said NYRB II General Manager and Red Bull Arena VP of Operations Shaun Oliver. "With our MLS team already playing on the road this weekend, this break will allow the Red Bull Arena pitch to return to the standard that has come to be expected by both our players and opposing teams."
The field at RBA needs a break. NYRB II will play at Montclair State next season, but this year it has been shoehorned into Red Bull Arena mostly because it had nowhere else to go.
And NYRB II is a development squad. It's job is to help the first team. Few things will hinder the first team more quickly than a sub-standard playing surface. So NYRB II has to hit the road.
The change means the reserves will play four of their last five games of the USL regular season away from home. And it also means there will be one less game for the ongoing (and suddenly controversial) Video Assistant Referee experiment at Red Bull Arena.
As it happens, and as you might expect, NYRB II thrives on adversity. The team has won 10 of its 12 road games this season, losing just once. It is better on the road (10-1-1) than at home (7-2-4). If RBNY is trying to make things a little more difficult for Wolyniec, it will need to try harder.