Playoff Preview: NYRB II Clash with Rochester in Semi-Finals

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Today is Judgement Day for New York Red Bull II as they play the one team they haven’t beaten in their two year history — the Rochester Rhinos.

This game is the Eastern Conference semifinal and represents a meeting between two of the favorites to win the USL Championship. New York dispatched Orlando City B last week 4-0 in one of the more dominating playoff performances this season. Rochester on the other hand was involved in a physical battle with the Charlotte Independence but pulled out a 3-1 win without losing any players to cards or injury.

Both teams have nullified each other in three games this season but there will be no excuses on Friday evening at Red Bull Arena. There must be a winner.


PROJECTED STARTING XI:

New York Red Bull II: Meara; Powder, Carroll, Long, Najem; Adams, Metzger, Bezecourt; Bonomo, Valot, Allen

Rochester Rhinos: Gomez; Kamdem, James, Apostolopous, Farrell; Fall, Forbes, Tergou, Beresford; Dos Santos, Volesky

Player to Watch: Vincent Bezecourt. The dangerous midfielder has lit up the USL in the final months of the season with a phenomenal eye for goal. He has had some of the best highlight reel free kicks of 2016 and has learned to put himself in dangerous positions to bother opposing defenses. With the absence of Junior Flemmings, Bezecourt has also become one of the more active contributors in the box, helping to keep the play wide and effective.

X-Factor: Jesse Marsch said it best yesterday at Red Bulls practice when speaking about the coaching of John Wolyniec: “He’s been dominant. The team has been dominant. They’ve been organized. They look like the first team.” John Wolyniec has quickly separated himself from the pack in how he has prepared New York for a dominant season and it is that preparation which may be the deciding factor.

WHERE TO WATCH: YouTube at 7PM on 10/7


The Rochester Rhinos have become an ultra-competitive rival to New York Red Bull II and with their second consecutive playoff meeting, this is where the rivalry could move to the next level. This season, both teams have negated each other on the field with nothing to separate the two after three consecutive draws.

Head coach Bob Lilley’s disciplined style has once again paid off for his team as they remain one of the league’s most dominant defenses. They don’t give up much but occasionally have a problem putting the ball into the back of the net. They led the Eastern Conference in draws with 12 and only scored more than one goal in their last four games before their playoff outburst.

New York Red Bull II just need to keep to the gameplan. John Wolyniec has the team playing a high press but giving up little on the counter. Their size with Carroll, Long and Schmoll off the bench has proven to be a good combination when stalling Rochester’s physicality. Lastly, Tyler Adams has been able to boss the midfield and maintain possession despite his size.

The meeting between New York and Rochester will certainly highlight this weekend in USL Playoff action. Whether or not it produces goals will remain to be seen. However, this may be the game that decides who will be the favorite to lift the USL Championship in a few weeks.