A quick and decisive return to form saw New York Red Bulls II dispatch local rivals Philadelphia Union II in USL action. The Baby Bulls ran roughshod across Subaru Park on Wednesday night and trounced the Union reserve side by a score of 5-1 with both sides coming off a loss in their return to USL play.
The night started off with the news that the only coach New York Red Bulls II has ever known, John Wolyniec, would be missing tonight’s fixture after receiving a positive covid-19 test earlier in the week. Subsequent testing came back with negatives, but the boss elected to remain home and left the management of the game to assistant Ibrahim Sekagya. The team sheet reflected a slight rotation from the previous game against Hartford, as Edgardo Rito, Barry Sharifi, Cherif Dieye and Omar Sowe were all rotated out of the starting XI. This gave way to the first professional starts for Daniel Edelman, Deri Corfe and Jake LaCava respectively, as well as the odd sight at right back of Roy Boateng.
Both sides began the game pressing and counter pressing the other in the slick conditions, owing to a massive rainstorm which had blanketed the area. It was not to last as Deri Corfe, the former Manchester City academy product and USL League Two MVP, broke open the Union on a mature pass from rookie academy player Jake LaCava. Taking on defenders by himself in the box, Corfe opened just enough space for himself to finesse a shot on goal.
The teams went into halftime with the score 1-0 in favor of RB2, and still relatively even between the two sides. Union II opened the second half by scoring after seventeen year old Selmir Miščić snuck past Joe Fala and found space in the box to send a header into the back of the net.
This scoreline would last about eight minutes before Roy Boateng headed home a ball which restored the lead for the Baby Bulls off a corner kick from Kyle Zajec. This opened the floodgates, and the young Philadelphia Union II squad came undone shortly afterwards. Trying to pull themselves back into the game, the Union were sliced apart on two near consecutive counters which resulted in goals for both Daniel Edelman and Sebastian Elney. Three goals in under ten minutes killed off anything left that Philadelphia Union II could still offer, and the game moved towards its inevitable conclusion afterwards. Omar Sowe would add a fifth, capitalizing on the fantastic tenacity shown by Dantouma “Yaya” Toure in winning and retaining the ball in the box.
One particular change we saw this week that paid dividends was the insertion of Jake LaCava into the XI next to Elney as a second striker. With Elney able to drift further out, where he’s slightly more comfortable, RB2 were able to find a more healthy attacking balance in the final third. No longer asking Caden Clark to pick up so much of the slack, LaCava fed well with Corfe coming in from the left flank and helped produce the first goal and several chances thereafter. Although forward depth remains a concern for RB2, the initial returns on LaCava’s first start show some serious promise.
Up next for New York Red Bulls II will be their toughest test in USL this season, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The Riverhounds are favorites for the group winner, and currently sit in pole position in Group F. Managed by John Wolyniec’s personal boogeyman in Bob Lilley, no one has truly given Wolyniec the fits that Lilley has. The Baby Bulls have only beaten a Lilley coached team twice in fifteen opportunities.