New York Red Bulls II managed a draw with rivals Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, April 22.
Manager John Wolyniec switched up the formation for the game against the Rhinos going to a 4-3-3 rather than the team’s usual 4-2-2-2. Up top Brandon Allen started as the central striker, being flanked on the right by Zeiko Lewis and Florian Valot on the left, making his return to the team in place of Junior Flemmings. The midfield consisted of the two usual starters in Vincent Bezecourt and Arun Basuljevic, while Dan Metzger made his return to the squad after missing last week’s game. At the back, Wolyniec made a few changes as Justin Bilyeu moved to left back with David Abidor starting in his place.
The game was quite congested early on with neither team getting an advantage. NYRB II had the best chance in the opening 25 minutes after a quick counter allowed Valot to find Bezecourt in the box, but he couldn’t direct his shot on target.
Rochester would respond minutes later when Christiano Francois found Kenardo Forbes on the edge of the box and his shot went just wide.
26' - Forbes nearly opens the scoring for either side, but shot rolls wide of diving Louro.— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 22, 2017
Both teams continued to try to find a way through and the Rhinos could have been ahead in the 39th minute after Forbes put Darius Madison through, but he skied his shot well over the bar. Louro would deny Forbes five minutes later with a great save as he tipped Forbes’ shot over the bar.
39' - Rhinos have best chance of the half and it's skied into Lake Ontario.— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 22, 2017
The Rhinos would open the scoring a minute later on what would be the last kick of the first half. A long ball into the box was chested down by Madison to Mike Garzi and his great strike found the bottom left corner.
NYRB II wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the score sheet in the 2nd half as they equalized just five minutes in. A long ball from Bilyeu found Allen in the box and he was able to hold off two defenders and fire the ball into the far corner from a tight angle.
NYRB II had a golden chance to take the lead in the 58th minute when Bilyeu’s cross found Valot alone in front of goal, but he scuffed his shot which made it easy for Rochester Rhinos goalie Tomas Gomez to handle. Minutes later, Allen almost had his second when he was put through by Lewis, but Gomez was off his line quick to stop the chance.
62' - Zeiko nearly finds Allen for a 2nd goal, but Gomez comes out to sweep the chance away!— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 22, 2017
NYRB II were rewarded for the pressure when they took the lead in the 65th minute, although there was some luck involved. Bilyeu sent in a cross from the wing and Gomez and Rhinos’ defender Ryan Felix collided - the ball fell to Bezecourt to tap home.
Rochester Rhinos almost responded immediately as Forbes was able to get through, but Louro came up with a big save to deny him.
Rochester Rhinos would continue to try and find an equalizer and just like in the first half they managed to score with the last kick of the ball. Forbes sent a long ball into the box from a free kick and Rhino defender Joseph Farrell beat Louro to it in the air. His header found the net to give the Rhinos the draw.
The move of Bilyeu back to his natural position seemed to work better this game, Bilyeu was instrumental on both of the goals for NYRB II and constantly seemed to be an option down the flank. Ndam continues to respond visibly to the playing time he’s been given, and to validate Wolyniec’s faith him him. He made several big tackles in the game. Althoug mistakes continue to occur with the back line, it does look better than earlier in the season.
It’s hard to say who should start up top when everyone is healthy, but one thing is for sure, Brandon Allen should be one of those guys. His ability on the goal to hold up the ball was impressive and his finish from the angle he had was even better. If it wasn’t for a great save by Gomez, he could have easily had a brace and it looks like he’s in for another big season with this team.
While the trip to Rochester should have probably ended with NYRB II getting three points, they will still take a point and continue to show game-to-game improvement as the season progresses. NYRB II’s next game is at home against Harrisburg City Islanders, on Saturday, May 6, at 4:00 PM.