Preview: NYRB II Battles Harrisburg City

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Beat Writer

John Wolyniec will certainly be looking for a better performance from his time at Red Bull Arena Saturday afternoon as New York Red Bull II welcomes the Harrisburg City Islanders for the first time this year.

New York clawed out a nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds last weekend to move up the Eastern Conference with a 2-3-2 record and eight points. Harrisburg sits just behind New York and a victory would push the home team out of the last playoff spot in the East.


Projected XI:

New York Red Bull II: Castano; McLaws, Jean-Baptiste, Da Fonte, Wallace; Metzger, Stolz, Plewa; Sanchez, Tsonis, Bedoya

Harrisburg City Islanders: Noble; Shaffer, Johnson, Leverock, Tribbett; Barril, Valles, Ekra; Plumoff, Diprima, Benbow

Battle to Watch: Sanchez vs. Shaffer. Manolo Sanchez has slowly been building momentum this season, scoring his first goal against Pittsburgh last week. He has been dangerous on the ball all year but only now has found that killer finish. Conversely, the Islanders’ backs have had a major influence on the offense and will need to make sure they aren’t caught out of position while pressing forward against the tough Red Bull II midfield.

X-Factor: John Wolyniec. New York’s spirited head coach was none too pleased with last week’s performance and will certainly shake things up this week. Expect New York to come out fast and potentially have good looks at goal should things go as planned.


Anaylsis:

Harrisburg City is coming into this game with momentum. They haven’t lost a game since their second of the season and have not allowed more than one goal in a game in their last three. Most recently, the Islanders handed Wilmington a tough loss in which right back Kenny Tribbett scored his first two goals of the season. The team is hungry and moving up the table fast. A win would bump New York out of sixth place and extend their unbeaten streak to four games.

New York has their own kind of momentum. A dramatic win off of a late goal by defender Anthony Wallace showed that the team has grit. Head coach Wolyniec will certainly be pressuring his team to leave the dramatics in the locker room but there is at the very least a reassurance that the team responds well to adversity.

It will be critical to keep an eye on Leo Stolz in this game. The star draft pick was benched in the second half against Pittsburgh last week and may even be benched depending on this week’s practice sessions. Stolz has not progressed as well as other USL players and will need a strong performance to stay on the right side of the roster sheet.