Preview: NYRB II Continues Road Trip in Wilmington

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Writer

New York Red Bulls II travels to Wilmington North Carolina to play the Hammerheads Saturday, night looking to win their first road game of the season.

Now in the third week of a six game road trip, NYRB II has yet to register a win despite well received performances. Late goals continue to plague the team with the latest coming in their 2-2 draw in Montreal. Still, the team sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Just one point shy of the final playoff spot.


Projected XI:

New York Red Bull II: Castano; McLaws, Jean-Baptiste, Da Fonte, Wallace; Stolz, Plewa, Etienne, Obekop, M. Sanchez, Abang

Wilmington Hammerheads: Rawls; Parratt, Cole, Campbell, Martinez; Ackley, Nicholson, Moose, Jane; Bone, Zimmerman

Last Encounter: 3-0 Hammerheads win at Red Bull Arena on April 12.

Battle to Watch: Bench vs bench. Last time these two teams played, the Hammerheads saw a large number of loanees from NYCFC including forward Kwadwo Poku. With the blue team having already played this week, don’t expect the same level of support from the mothership. On the other hand the Red Bulls have a bye week heading into their first US Open Cup game of 2015. There may be more than a few MLS players getting some time including the usuals like Anatole Abang and perhaps a few more.

X-Factor Leo Stolz. The 24-year-old German is finally coming into his own in NYRB II, having a “Player of the Week” performance last week against Montreal. While his goal production is not what it was in NCAA, Stolz is adjusting well to the defensive-midfield role and becoming a force in the high pressure offense. He is distributing the ball better to forwards and making the team generally more dangerous than in weeks past. He will be tough to stop and may even be playing for a US Open Cup appearance next week.


The Hammerheads are Dismal at Home

Wilmington is one of only two teams that has yet to register a win at home, Toronto FC II being the other. They have been dismal at Legion Stadium having surrendered 11 of their 16 goals this season in North Carolina. The team has also not registered a victory since that trip to New York back on April 12th where they received substantial help from NYCFC.

While not having won a game on the road, NYRB II looked good last week against a very tough FC Montreal team. They will certainly be entering Saturday night’s game with their eyes set on a victory that could lift them back into playoff contention.

MLS Support In the Shape of a Dynamic Duo

With the New York Red Bulls having a bye week, it is entirely possible that we will see some bench players looking for minutes. Anatole Abang has created quite a report with fellow Cameroonian Marius Obekop. The two may see a return to the starting lineup, giving the team their most potent duo up front yet this season. Abang currently leads the team in goals with four. Obekop has also seen a resurgence as an up-the-field distributor and secondary striker, making things very difficult for opposing defenses.

The two have played the most minutes for NYRB II from the main MLS rosters, excluding draft picks Stolz and Sanchez who have yet to see first team minutes. Abang’s efforts have begun to show on the MLS side of the ball as well with a goal in NYRB’s 4-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo last Friday.


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