Several New York Red Bulls first-teamers saw significant minutes as John Wolyniec’s side played to a draw in a friendly with USL rivals Harriburg’s City Islanders.
Ryan Meara, Justin Bilyeu, Michael Amir Murillo, Dan Metzger, and Mike Grella were all in the lineup for the mid-day match at the Red Bulls training center.
The suggestion from the club’s comms team is that was a 4-2-2-2 formation deployed, echoing the priorities of the first team as tends to be the case with Wolyniec’s reserves.
NYRBII was held scoreless in the first half.
Mike Grella was subbed before the second half in favor of Red Bulls SuperDraft pick Zeiko Lewis, and at the 62-minute mark, Murillo came off for Hassan Ndam.
Moments later, the French Connection worked to perfection as Vincent Bezecourt and Florian Valot teamed up to get one in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Only two more subs would be made in the game - Justin Bilyeu stepped out for trialist Brett Nason, and Brandon Allen was replaced by another trialist, Bradley Nestor.
Unfortunately, Wolyniec’s boys would be unable to keep the edge as they conceded a penalty kick in the 85th minute, which went past Ryan Meara for a City Islanders equalizer and a 1-1 result.
It is interesting that this II-team friendly was used to give time to quite so many first-team faces. Grella is not expected to play any time at all in USL this season, unless something goes awry for him and he needs rehab starts. Bilyeu, Meara, Metzger, and Murillo have been regulars in the RBNY match-day squads so far this season. They each might spend some time with the II team, but none is thought to be destined for a lot of minutes in USL in 2017. But each of those players could use time on the field for fitness, sharpness, or general acclimatization purposes. Even NYRB II’s preseason is subordinate to the needs of the first team squad - which is as it should be, of course.
Suffice it to say, Grella, Meara, Murillo, Metzger and Bilyeu should be considered unlikely to start for the RBNY in the home opener against Colorado Rapids this weekend, but for now look upon their presence in the II team’s preseason as part of their continuing role in the first team’s plans.