New York Red Bulls II suffered their first defeat of the season at Red Bulls Arena on the night of Wednesday, April 5, 1-0 to the Harrisburg City Islanders. NYRB II manager John Wolyniec made four changes to the squad from last weekend’s game against the Richmond Kickers. Brandon Allen and Alex Muyl started up top in place of Florian Valot and Junior Flemmings, Ryan Meara started in goal and Michael Murillo made his debut for the team in place of Ethan Kutler.
NYRB II controlled the game early on and had a good chance when Murillo’s cross found Zeiko Lewis, but his shot was deflected away.
6' - Lovely cross from Murillo in his first action with the club, he lays one to the feet of Lewis who blasts one on goal but it's deflected— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 5, 2017
Lewis continued to be the main focal point of the team’s attacks and he played in Muyl, but Harrisburg’s keeper was out quick to stop the attempt.
Despite controlling much of the possession, NYRB II was almost caught on the break and it took a nicely timed block from Murillo to prevent a possible goal.
28' - Harrisburg with chance, but Murillo tracks back to knock one off the Harrisburg attacker for a goal-kick.— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 5, 2017
Wolyniec’s men would continue to create chances as Najem’s diagonal ball found Muyl, but his tight angle shot was stopped. Moments later Lewis controlled a Murillo cross and found Arun Basuljevic who couldn’t direct his effort on target.
29' - Najem drops a dime to Muyl who rips a shot on goal, but the Harrisburg keeper stops it with a great reaction save!— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 5, 2017
35' - Zeiko brings down a lofted Murillo cross, lays one to Arun, who nearly slips one in the top right corner! Close!— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 5, 2017
NYRB II went into halftime having enjoyed more than twice as much possession as the CIty Islanders, but with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Wolyniec tried to inject something into the team, sending on Junior Flemmings for Muyl early in the second half.
Harrisburg would score the only goal of the game ten minutes later, when Murillo’s header back to Meara fell short and Manolo Sanchez rounded Meara and scored into an empty net to give the visitors the lead.
NYRB II’s best chance to equalize came in the 71st minute when Lewis controlled a pass and found himself one on one with Miller but his chip went wide. Lewis almost equalized again with a goal-bound cross into the box, but Miller pushed it away.
71' - CHANCE! Zeiko nearly gets the equalizer, but his touch forces it wide of goal.— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 6, 2017
77' - Zeiko whips one to the back post but the Harrisburg keeper punches it clear.— NYRB II (@NYRBII) April 6, 2017
Ultimately the team could not find an equalizer and saw its 16-game unbeaten streak - that dated back to last season - ended on its first game at Red Bull Arena since winning the 2016 USL Championship.
Despite the loss, Wolyniec feels the team is moving a good direction and said they just need to finish off plays.
It's always a little tricky when you're playing different line-ups and managing the relationships between players. This team over the last two years has had relatively slow starts so it is no surprise but we still play how we want to play and put the other team under a lot of pressure and try to play high tempo and put together a lot of tactical things. Now it is just the last part of finishing off plays and sensing when moments are coming. We also need to be a little bit cleaner in the back. Overall, I think we are moving in a good direction, a lot of good things.
Lewis reiterated Wolyniec’s point about finishing their chances in the final third saying that they have to more clinical.
I think we just got to work. We are getting plenty of chances so it is not as if we are not creating any chances. I think once we get into the final third we got to be a little more clinical. Even today I should have scored, I feel like I let my team down by missing on that breakaway.
Despite the loss Wolyniec and the players are optimistic - it is early in the season after all. The team is controlling games and playing its signature style: it’s just a matter of finishing the chances created. NYRB II travels to St. Louis to take on St. Louis FC this Saturday April 8th.