Preview: NYRB II Looks for Signs of Life

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED
USL Beat Writer

It has been a rough stretch for New York’s USL side as the team has stumbled to a 1-3-2 record, leaving them five points from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Despite sharing minutes with the first team and sharing a similar high pressure midfield mindset, the team has been unable to produce results on the field. The team is hoping that a week off, after three games in eight days, will help refresh bodies and minds as they look to get their USL season back on track.

On the opposite side stands Pittsburgh. A thumping win over Toronto FC II and the Riverhounds stand poised to make a move up the standings. A win would see them overtake fourth place, bumping Louisville City FC. However, they will have to improve their road form where they were winless against St. Louis FC in their second game of the season.


Projected Starting IX:

New York Red Bull II: Castano; McLaws, Jean-Baptiste, Da Fonte, Heffron; Metzger, Stolz, Etienne; Sanchez, Obekop, Abang

Pittsburgh Riverhounds: Thompson; Flunder, Arena, Hunt, Dallman; Earls, Green, Okai; Vincent, Dantas, Kerr

Battle to Watch: Rob Vincent has four goals so far this season with two coming in the last game against Toronto. The team’s 4-3-3 formation allows Vincent space on the left side, similar to what Marius Obekop does for New York. Red Bull II will need to be weary of being caught out of position, especially at right back, should Pittsburgh break out of their own end on the counter.

X-Factor: Momentum is everything. The Riverhounds are feeling good as they haven’t lost a game since the second week of the season. New York will have to gain possession early and potentially score a goal in order to keep Pittsburgh on their heels. If not, this may be another long game at Red Bull Arena.


Analysis:

It comes as no surprise that New York will need big performances out of their young players. Derrick Etienne has been impressive so far but it hasn’t led to goals or assists. Leo Stolz will also need to be more of a presence as his defending midfield role has left him invisible at times during games. Both of these players should be disrupting defenses and keeping players honest. That has materialized in glimpses but nothing has been maintained for longer stretches.

From one perspective, the Riverhounds are exactly how they appear. The team has no MLS affiliate making it much easier to scout, with little worry of massive loans playing a wildcard factor. With that said, the team is also older and more experienced. New York has had difficulties when the raw talent is subdued by knowledge. Head coach Wolyniec will hope to have the team ready for what could be a very tough game in Harrison on Sunday.