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Three Thoughts: NYRB II thrash Charleston Battery 4-0 in opening round of USL playoffs

Three thoughts from NYRB II’s big win

MLS: Playoffs-D.C. United at New York Red Bulls William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Do New York Red Bulls II have everyone’s attention now? Let me preface this by saying I don’t think the team is as good as they were last year.

However, they were one of the hotter teams to end the season and if this win didn’t convince people that they’re better that their seed indicated, maybe nothing will. There’s three talking points that I want to go over in this game starting with.

  1. NYRB II had their best road performance of the season

Wait a second, didn’t NYRB II only win 3 games on the road this season? Didn’t they also concede the most goals on the road during the regular as well? Yes, they did but you wouldn’t have guessed that with the performance they put on in this game would you?

The road struggles had been documented from the beginning of the season with this team as they were 1-2-2 through their first five road games and wouldn’t get their second win until September. Now that’s not to say they didn’t put in good performances on the road this season it’s actually quite the opposite. They did have their poor performances, the 2-0 losses to Bethlehem and Harrisburg and the 5-1 pasting against Charlotte come to mind. The biggest reason their road record was so poor was because they didn’t finish games out, something manager John Wolyniec had talked about a lot early on. In fact NYRB II dropped a total of 9 possible points from either winning or drawing positions in the 80th minute or later during the regular season.

However, during the last few months of the season I saw a much different NYRB II team on the road. A team that put on a very good display against FC Cincinnati despite the score, gave Tampa Bay Rowdies a tough game despite a rotated squad, beat Orlando City B in a must win game and took Rochester Rhinos down to the wire. Wolyniec had said at the last home game against Pittsburgh that the team had performed much better on the road than their record indicated and after this performance it looks like he was right.

Obviously the front three needs to be talked about, but I want to talk about something else first and that is

2. NYRB II’s backline were terrific in this game

Boy has Jordan Scarlett really made an impact on this back four. Before this game NYRB II were 7-4-3 when Scarlett started at center back. What really stuck out to me in this game was how well he and Hassan Ndam did at not only preventing chances for Charleston, but their distribution out of the back as well, Scarlett had a 77.1% passing accuracy while Ndam had 80.6%. Between the two of them they had 6 tackles, 12 clearances, and 6 interceptions.

We already saw Ndam get a call up to the first team this year and I think that really helped him out not only with his confidence, but his communication with his teammates has been much better over the past few months. I don’t think it will be too long next year before we see Scarlett get a call-up, while he is still learning, in a short time with the team he has impressed a lot of people.

Not to leave out David Najem and Ethan Kutler I thought both of them had a very good overall game as well. Both were involved in many of NYRB II’s attacks on the night and Kutler even got himself a goal with a terrific shot from outside the box from Arun Basuljevic’s corner. While I was a little concerned about their positioning at times and allowing a lot of space on the wings, they were able to thwart Charleston’s chances and come away with the clean sheet.

I would also like to mention how well Andrew Tinari and Dan Metzger work in the midfield together. They controlled the pace of the game once again just as they did in their only trip to Charleston this year. That allowed NYRB II to carve out a lot of chances and Tinari even grabbed himself an assist on Ben Mines’ goal. Here’s hoping we see Metzger get some considerable first team time next season because he’s earned it.

While the defense was a big part of the reason NYRB II won, perhaps the biggest reason Wolyniec’s men was because

3. The front three of Bonomo, Flemmings, and Valot continues to dominate

I said once and I’ll say it again, you will not find a hotter front three in the USL right now than these guys. Coming into the game NYRB II were 6-3-0 when Stefano Bonomo, Junior Flemmings and Florian Valot started alongside each other this season. They had also combined for 10 goals and 2 assists in their last five games coming into this one as well.

So naturally Bonomo would open up the scoring with a cross from Flemmings, which was perfect by the way. Bonomo would then force a turnover on the third goal and although his shot was saved Valot pounced on the rebound for an easy tap in.

Speaking of Bonomo in my opinion he’s the MVP for NYRB II this year. Since his return the impact he has had on the squad has definitely been seen and not just by scoring goals. His ability to hold the ball up and get other teammates involved has been great and has really helped Flemmings and Valot get on form.

As for Flemmings, he is also someone I would expect to see get first team minutes next year. If not for his injury at the end of the last season I think he would’ve had a very good season. It did take him a while to get going as it usually does when you’re coming off a long injury layoff, but he looks back to his best now.

With Valot’s second half goal that gave him 8 goals in his last 9 games, which is amazing considering he only had one before this great run. One could argue he was unfortunate to not have more early in the year as he was denied by the woodwork and great goalkeeping several times. You have to give him a lot of credit despite not scoring he was ranked near the top 10 in chances created for most of the season. All the hard work he had been putting in has paid off for him.

NYRB II will travel again next week when they play Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Eastern Conference semi finals. The game will take place on Saturday, October 28, at 7:30 pm.