Three observations from New York Red Bulls II’s 1-0 win over Richmond Kickers on Saturday at City Stadium.
- Rafael Diaz and back line impress
Diaz had only made on start on the season for NYRB II, their opener against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, prior to Saturday’s game. With Evan Louro being used as a substitute for the senior team against the Montreal Impact, Diaz was give the start against the Kickers.
Diaz commanded his box well in this game and his decision making on the set pieces was a key in the victory. Where as Louro has struggled this year to deal with set pieces, Diaz was assured in his decision making and setting up the backline to deal with the Kickers threat. Not to mention he came up with a few big saves to keep the shutout and win preserved.
As for the back line, Wolyniec opted to stay with the same back four that played in the victory over Charleston. The idea may have been to get Justin Bilyeu time at center back, but it’s clear that his best position is at left back. He seems more confident out there and offers something going forward with his crosses into the box. Kevin O’Toole also put in another solid performance on the right as well and with Jordan Scarlett making his debut he could be in for some competition.
As for Ndam and Abidor I thought they performed well for the second straight game being partnered together. There were some nervous moments and Abidor did give away some dangerous set pieces with some clumsy fouls, but they tightened up when they were needed the most especially during the Kickers second half push. Abidor isn’t the most athletic defender, but his distribution (80.6 % pass accuracy) and ability to read the game (5 clearances) could make this partnership a long term one.
2. Junior Flemmings is the spark for this team
Rotation is a part of Wolyniec’s plan to develop talent for the senior team, but Junior Flemmings should have started this game. Wolyniec probably doesn’t want to overwork him because he is just coming off of an injury that ended his 2016 season and that’s understandable.
Flemmings had been the man in form for NYRB II coming into this match scoring two goals in his last two games and sparking the comeback against Charleston. Aside from the first half goal on Saturday, NYRB II didn’t offer much going forward and Flemmings pace and skill were missed down the right side.
After being subbed on for Brandon Allen in the 65th minute, NYRB II started to find their way through with Flemmings being the catalyst. He came close to adding to the lead in the 79th miunte after beating his man and getting on the end of a Derrick Etienne cross, but his header hit the crossbar.
Flemmings has shown over these last few weeks that he is capable of igniting NYRB II’s attack and showing that the player from a year ago is back.
3. A win away from home
It took 5 games, but NYRB II finally got their first win on the road this year. Coming into the game NYRB II had only taken two out of a possible 12 points in their 4 road games. NYRB II had a winning position in all four of those games, but were unable to hold onto it which has been one of the stories of the season so far.
This game had a different feel to the previous four road games in the sense that NYRB II were unable to carve out a good amount of chances for themselves. Brandon Allen was isolated up top for most of the first half, while the midfielders weren’t able to string passes together to create something.
This seems to be an on-going theme this season as NYRB II has played much better in the 2nd half as opposed to the first in the majority of their games.
NYRB II will need to find a way to put together a full 90 minutes if they want to contend for the USL Cup once again, but a road win is a step in the right direction.