As the New York Red Bulls season is about to start very soon with a big trip to the Dominican Republic against Club Atletico Pantoja, that signals the begining of the their participation of the CONCACAF Champions League.
But at the moment they had to take care of some pre-season business as the club had to face the Portland Timbers, during the Mobile Mini Sun Cup over at the Kino Sports Complex, which is the home of FC Tucson as they are now the USL League 1 Affiliate of Phoenix Rising FC in the USL Championship.
After a solid ninety minutes the Red Bulls came away with a two all draw and they were on the front foot from the beginning. A fantastic setup that allowed Brian White to convert a chance in the 13th minute as the entire play began from Florian Valot.
As he sprung Marcus Epps along the far side, Epps whipped a fantastic cross to the middle of the Timbers area, where White had a solid yard of separation from his defender, and he side foots the ball past Jeff Antinella for the early lead.
Scoring from the corner on a set piece usually gets cleared or the keeper comes out to make the grab in good position. But this time the Red Bulls were able to convert the chance.
In the 32nd minute the Red Bulls were able to force Antinella to play the ball over the end line and that would set up their second tally. When the corner was delivered from the far side, leaping up in the air and heading the ball over the goal line was 2019 Super Draft Pick Sean Nealis as he converts to make it 2-0.
While the Timbers did fight back to get level as they scored on a corner and a penalty, this match showed plenty of promise, from some of the players who are from the MLS Bulls to the USL Bulls and the current super draft class.
Marcus Epps has shown he is a solid pick up from the Philadelphia Union, also a questionable move as to why they would give up so easily on him. Because he is becoming a threat down the right flank in the midfield. His crossing ability was on point to assist on Brian White’s goal.
We also saw the return of Florian Valot and Kyle Duncan from their season long injuries. So far it’s a positive to see these men attacking as well as defending against the opposition, it was also fun to see Duncan have a bit of a spirited joust as he was defending against Sebastian Blanco, as well as creating a hard tackle to inform Blanco that he is back.
While Valot only got the opening 45 minutes in this pre-season tilt, what we can see and be happy about, is that Valot seems to be coming along nicely and at the same time it looks like the coaching staff is going to make sure he’s recovering properly.
But what’s very impressive is that the majority of this mish-mash roster for this particular pre-season tilt, is that you are witnessing how quickly some of these players who just came over in the draft and in a trade deal, have responded and adjusted to quickly to the tactics.
That is the best news so far of what we have seen so early here in 2019. So much so that Sean Nealis has officially signed with the Red Bulls “We are pleased to welcome Sean to the first team,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett. “When we drafted Sean we knew we were getting a quality player, but throughout preseason camp he has displayed qualities the we look for on and off the field.”
That tally didn’t hurt him either. But now the rest of the USL Championship Bulls side will finish the Mobile Mini Sun Cup as the MLS side will now turn their attention for international club competition and that will begin this coming Wednesday night.