New York Red Bulls II played in their third home venue for 2015 and christened it with a win. Playing at the RBNY training center instead of Red Bull Arena, NYRB II managed to overcome a lackluster second half to top St. Louis FC 2-1 with a late Franklin Castellanos goal.
New York took a 1-0 lead into half, with Marius Obekop beating Chicago Fire loanee Alec Kann through the legs in the 39th minute. However, the second half was dominated by St. Louis, with the visitors finally finding an equalizer in the 72nd minute, with the sub Ciesiulka firing one low into the left hand corner of the net. NYRBII subs Dan Bedoya and Franklin Castellanos combined well to give New York a winner late into stoppage time. The goal was Castellanos' second of the year (third if you count his effort versus Chelsea), and Bedoya's first pro assist.
The lineup featured first-team loanee's Shawn McLaws, Santiago Castaño, and Leo Stolz. Regular Mike da Fonte was absent due to suspension, leading to McLaws being deputized at centerback to start the game. Castaño made a few good saves to preserve New York's win, as the young keeper looks to be steadily improving as the year goes on.
1. Devon ‘Speedy' Williams is a great pickup
As a defensive minded midfielder, one doesn't always see highlight reel plays out of ‘Speedy' Williams, yet his consistency and sharpness in the tackle has impressed early in his Red Bulls career. Today, he was clearly the better of the central pairing, outshining two time Mac Hermann trophy winner Leo Stolz. Williams does everything he needs to in the midfield, and one begins to wonder why the young Jamacian wasn't picked up right away when he attended the team's open tryout earlier in the year. ‘Speedy' Williams is a quality player and certainly one to watch going forward.
2. New York lacks defensive depth
With Karl Ouimette drafted into first team duty and Mike da Fonte suspended, New York's lack of defensive depth was exposed. The team was forced to start Shawn McLaws at centerback, and while the Coastal Carolina product held his own, he looked lost and uncomfortable at times.
Defensive options on the bench included academy player Henry Martin and converted midfielder Bolu Akinyode. Both came on as subs and did well, but the team will struggle in the future unless it can address its depth issue.
3. The team was missing a few key players
Despite the win, the team lacked sharpness at times. It doesn't help that NYRB II has played 35 different players this year, but that's the nature of a new, developmental team.
@NYRBII becomes the 35th player in NYRBII history. One player shy of what the 96 MetroStars used in their inaugural season.— Curse of Caricola (@CurseofCaricola) August 2, 2015
What really doesn't help is when the team is missing keys pieces of consistency in the team. Though ‘Speedy' Williams has shown well so far in midfield, and Marius Obekop added a goal the team missed mainstays in Tyler Adams and Dan Metzger. The two midfield mainstays have been some of New York's best players this year, and it's no wonder the team lacked continuity of previous wins.
Leo Stolz has yet to truly impress this year, and with an increasingly crowded midfield, he could find himself needing to push for playing time as others seem to overtake him. With Adams and Metzger's returns NYRBII will find itself with a selection issue ahead of them.