New York Red Bulls II were defeated 4-3 on penalties by Louisville City FC in the USL Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday.
Manager John Wolyniec started the same eleven as their last game against Tampa Bay Rowdies. Evan Louro started in goal. Jordan Scarlett was uncertain after his injury in the 2nd half against Tampa Bay, but he made the starting line-up. David Najem, Hassan Ndam and Ethan Kutler rounded out the back four. Dan Metzger and Andrew Tinari started in the midfield once again. There were no changes front four of Junior Flemmings, Arun Basuljevic, Florian Valot and Stefano Bonomo who looked to continue their scintillating form.
The game started off with both teams getting chances as Louro denied Oscar Jimenez’s low shot and Valot fired over the bar from distance for NYRB II.
Louisville City would find a breakthrough in the 12th minute. A long free kick came in and NYRB II’s defense was unable to clear and Brian Ownby took advantage as he curled his shot past Louro into the bottom corner.
NYRB II tried to respond as Valot teed up Bonomo from just outside the box, but the striker fired over.
Both teams continued to try and carve out chances and Tinari had a good chance three minutes before halftime, but his shot was blocked by the defense.
NYRB II went into half down 1-0 but still in the game and Wolyniec opted to make no changes to his team when they came out for the second half.
NYRB II came out better in the second half and nearly equalized three minutes in when Ndam’s header from a free kick just missed the far post.
NYRB II would find their equalizer just eight minutes later courtesy of some hard work from Flemmings. NYRB II countered and Flemmings was able to beat two players and his low shot was deflected into the goal to even the score.
NYRB II were forced to make an early change for the second straight game as Ndam was unable to continue and was replaced by Tim Schmoll.
Flemmings nearly had a brace in the 66th minute when Najem fired a shot across goal, but Louisville City were able to to block the Jamaican’s goal bound attempt out for a throw.
Both teams continued to look for the winner late on and ex NYRB II player, Speedy Williams, rattled the post with a shot from distance for Louisville City.
Neither were able to find a goal in regulation, which meant the game was headed to extra time.
Louro was tested early on in extra time as he got down to stop an effort from substitute Richard Ballard.
NYRB II had their best chance to take lead in the 96th minute when Flemmings earned a free kick just outside the box. Kutler drilled his attempt to the far post but Louisville City keeper Gregory Ranjitsingh made a terrific save to deny NYRB II the lead.
NYRB II made their second substitution as they sent on Mines for Basuljevic who came off with a knock.
NYRB II had two chances in the second half of extra time, but both Tinari and Valot shot wide. Wolyniec decided to send on Douglas Martinez for Flemmings to try and get a goal before the end of extra time, but the game would be decided by penalties for the second consecutive year.
NYRB II went first and Bonomo stepped up and converted his effort.
Kyle Smith made his for Louisville to even the score.
Martinez would convert for NYRB II and Louro would save Paolo Delpiccolo’s kick.
Both Valot and Sean Totsch would convert for their teams to make the score 3-2 NYRB II.
Mines would be denied by Ranjitsingh and Jimenez would convert to tie the score at 3 apiece.
Ranjitsingh would make a terrific stop on Kutler’s penalty and Ballard would convert his to send Louisville City FC to the USL Cup finals.
Despite the loss NYRB II once again made a deep run in the playoffs and have plenty of talent that should get first team action next season and others that will continue to develop in the USL next year as well.