New York Red Bulls II manager John Wolyniec made a few changes to his lineup for his team’s final scrimmage of its 2017 preseason, a 2-1 win over Bethlehem Steel FC.
Perhaps the most notable adjustment to the team that started against St. John’s last week: RBNY first teamer Connor Lade was given the start in defense to work his way back to match fitness. Senior team member Brandon Allen was also given a start up top, while players such as Dan Metzger, Florian Valot, Vincent Bezecourt, and Tim Schmoll remained in the side.
#NYRBII Starting XI @BSteelFC— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
Diaz; Najem, Schmoll, Ndam, Lade; Metzger, Basuljevic; Bezecourt, Noel (T); Allen, Valot #DefendTogether
#RBNY's @clade5 will play the first half of this morning's friendly as he works his way back to match fitness. #REDTogether pic.twitter.com/OrlVlmmTjQ— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
However, it was the visiting team that struck first, just six minutes into the match.
6' - Goal @BSteelFC— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
It didn’t take long for NYRB II to answer and 10 minutes later Brandon Allen equalized from the spot after being taken down in the box.
16' - GOAL #NYRBII !— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
.@brandon21allen with the equalizer as he rips one straight down the middle.
NYRB II had something else to smile about: Junior Flemmings made his preseason debut, the first time he’s seen game action since injury forced him to the sidelines last year.
.@Flemmo_77 gettin' warm— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
1-1 #NYvBST pic.twitter.com/2R6kOdXCro
37' - #NYRBII substitution ⤵️— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
Wolyniec made a few changes at halftime as trialist Lucas Terci and recently signed 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick Ethan Kutler came on for Allen and Lade.
#NYRBII 2nd half substitutions ⤵️— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
The team would take the lead in the 54th minute through Florian Valot.
54' - GOAL #NYRBII !— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
Valot strikes a beauty from 25+ yards out to beat the keeper.
Wolyniec gave some more game action to trialists such as David Abidor, Andrew Tinari, Brett Nason, and Bradley Nestor and the team was able to record the 2-1 win.
82' - 3 #NYRBII subs ⤵️— NYRB II (@NYRBII) March 18, 2017
With the preseason coming to a close it looks like for the most part that Wolyniec has the squad figured out. While Allen, Metzger, and Arun Basuljevic do have MLS contracts, it seems clear they’ll be spending time in USL this season.
Valot, Bezecourt, and Schmoll all have USL contracts, but it will be interesting to see which, if any of the trialists or academy players are offered USL contracts as well.
And it is expected all three of RBNY’s 2017 draft picks - Kutler, Zeiko Lewis (on loan to NYRB II for the year) and Jordan Scarlett (reported to have signed with the II team) - will be playing for the Red Bulls reserves this season.
But the big story has to be Junior Flemmings’ return to the team. Flemmings enjoyed success last year, recording 7 goals and four assists in 23 games in his first season in USL and as a Red Bull. He had won the attention of the senior team, but injury cut his season short and wrecked his preseason. Getting back on to the field in any capacity is an important step toward recapturing the momentum he had in 2016.
NYRB II’s USL season kicks off next Saturday when the team takes on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. As always with the II team, it will be interesting to see which players make the match-day squad.