Manager John Wolyniec’s team has a long list of injuries, and has fielded a different line-up almost every week. This time around, Junior Flemmings replaced Florian Valot up top, with the latter missing the game due to a heel injury. Zeiko Lewis and David Abidor replaced Andrew Tinari and Dan Metzger in the midfield, while Hassan Ndam started alongside Justin Bilyeu at center back. David Najem moved to left back with Michael Amir Murillo starting at right back.
NYRB II imposed themselves early on in the game and had a good chance in the 14th minute when Vincent Bezecourt’s corner found the head of Abidor who forced a diving save from Orlando City B keeper Earl Edwards Jr.
14' - CHANCE! Bezecourt corner kick finds the head of Abidor who forces a diving save from OCB keeper.— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 14, 2017
NYRB II were rewarded for their pressure when Bezecourt’s through ball split the defense and found Flemmings, who cutback past two defenders and fired a shot under Edwards to give the Red Bulls the lead.
Flemmings has had his minutes managed in the early games of this season, as he recovers from an injury that sidelined him toward the end of the 2016 campaign. Understandably, he told reporters he was happy to be back on the score sheet:
This is my first 90 minutes after being out for 7 1/2 months so I just want to give thanks. It has been paying off in training and ultimately came off in the game so I'm actually grateful for the first goal of the season.
NYRB II’s lead was tested right away as Albert Dikwa found some space for an attempt, but Evan Louro made a good save. Moments later Louro made a huge double save after Pierre da Silva was able to skip past Murillo; the ‘keeper knocked down the cross from da Silva and blocked Austin Martz’s follow-up attempt.
In the 31st minute, Murillo suffered an injury and had to receive treatment on the sideline. While NYRB II was playing a man down, Orlando City B capitalized. Da Silva’s cross found Dikwa, whose header beat Louro to even the the score.
Murillo’s injury would be too much for him to continue and he was replaced by Tim Schmoll.
NYRB II made a strong push to break the deadlock before the half as Brandon Allen’s glancing header off a corner just missed. Shortly before the end of the half, NYRB II took the lead and once again Bezecourt was involved with a great turn and right-footed shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner. Bezecourt’s goal put him all alone as the USL’s top scorer for the season.
Bezecourt is in remarkable form at the moment, though he presents it as just a matter of a few things going his way at the right time:
That was really tight, just above the box I think and then Justin Bilyeu played me a great ball to my feet and I saw the guy coming from behind me so I took a touch, tried going to my right and I hit it with my right foot and I got lucky enough to put it into the corner. Good ball from Bilyeu, pretty good finish from me.
The second half didn’t produce many chances for either team with NYRB II playing with a more compact midfield, and with one striker after Tinari entered the game for Allen at half-time.
It wasn’t until the 87th minute that NYRB II was able to put the game out of reach. Some nice work from Kevin O’Toole won the team a free kick. Bezecourt caught OCB’s defense by surprise and found Abidor, who calmly placed the ball in the net to put NYRB II up 3-1.
Wolyniec was happy with how his team played and how they adjusted to the game as it went on.
It's a competitive game. It's two MLS II teams and a bunch of guys that want to prove themselves so a chippiness sometimes starts from one play or could be the result of the way the game goes but it was not something we really wanted to focus on. We felt like in a lot of ways we played well and limited their chances and created enough to obviously get a result. It's an important lesson for our guys to learn to respond to those types of things in a positive and aggressive way.
Wolyniec also addressed the crowded schedule (NYRB II played two games last week) and the effects of fatigue and injuries piling up on the team on a slow start to the season.
The beginning of the season has been a little tricky as far as managing players and minutes. We have a number of guys with injuries. It's inherent in our team, especially because we have guys coming in, either they're playing professionally for the first time, or playing our style for the first time, or younger guys, or academy guys, and you know this is a physical load that's higher than what they're used to and that can result in certain injuries. It certainly was difficult last week and obviously this week we had a little bit more energy but I would still challenge our guys to do more, however, it's the early part of the season.
Perhaps the biggest key to NYRB II this season has been Vincent Bezecourt. Surely he’s going to be in the USL Team of the Week again. He has been the focal point of the majority of the chances the team has created and Wolyniec praised him after the match.
I would say he is playing with a lot of confidence. He seems to be in on every goal we have and every chance we create. If you talk about Vincent the first thing you ever talk about is his ability to make plays whether it be on the finishing end or setting up end and that's what we love about him
The center back partnership of Bilyeu and Ndam was reunited after Schmoll started last game, but after Murillo’s injury, Bilyeu moved to left back where he seemed more comfortable. One has to wonder if this is something we’ll see in the future considering how much better the defense looked in the second half.
Flemmings getting his first goal was big, but it was the way he did it that was the most impressive. Even with Bezecourt’s through ball Flemmings still had a lot to do and beating two defenders to the inside shows that maybe he’s starting to find his form after the long injury lay-off.
NYRB II travels to Rochester, New York next weekend to face off against the Rochester Rhinos, on Saturday, April 22, at 6:00 PM.