Is a loss bad if you can brand it as historic?
NYRB II was outgunned 3-0 by the Wilmington Hammerheads. The Hammerheads were playing their second game in three nights... bolstered by their affiliate club NYCFC.
Not to be outdone, NYRB II started a lineup featuring 7 loan players as well:
Anthony Wallace made his NYRB II debuts, while academy player Derrick Ettiene made his first start at the USL level. Despite starting a roster of mostly MLS and USL contracts, NYRB II continued the trend of giving academy players a chance on the field.
For Wilmington, despite the reinforcements, the hero of the match came from Nick Zimmerman, a former Red Bull. Zimmerman spent the last four seasons with the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL before moving on to Wilmington after being hurt much of 2014. He scored a brace in the first half, taking the wind out of NYRB II's sails.
The theme of the match for the home team was poor finishing. Despite leading 2-0 Wilmington didn't seem to put the game away until late in the match, when Santiago Castano earned a red card in the 86th minute. A Wilmington breakaway led to Castano stopping the attacker at all costs, which led to his ejection. Substitute Rafael Diaz could not stop a penalty from loanee Andres Mendoza, despite guessing the correct direction.
The man of the match for NYRB II goes to Derrick Etienne. Playing 90' in his first USL start, the academy player could have had multiple goals, if it weren't for saves like this one in the 74th minute:
Etienne was not the only player who could not finish, with Manolo Sanchez, Chris Tsonis, Leo Stolz, and Frank Castellanos all having good chances denied by the Wilmington keeper. Coach John Wolyneic will certainly emphasize this going forward.
Marius Obekop only played 29 minutes, picking up a knock in the match. Tyler Adams and Collin Heffron did not feature this match due to injuries. No other academy players besides Etienne played, although Marcello Borges made the bench. With a fixture congestion coming up, it would be nice to see some of the academy players get more time, especially off the bench.
Overall, not much to write home about from this match. To get the three points, or even salvage one the baby bulls needed to finish their chances. In the end, results don't matter, and getting players who have not featured in the Red Bulls (Jean-Baptiste, McLaws, Obekop, Sanchez, Stolz, and Wallace) and soon-to-be academy graduates minutes is a success in its own right.
NYRB II travels to Charleston on Apr. 18 for its first ever away match, before playing two matches next week at home against Richmond on Apr. 22, and in Rochester on Apr. 26.