Preview: NYRB II Play in First Championship Final

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

USL regular season and Eastern Conference champions New York Red Bull II will host Swope Park Rangers in the USL Championship game on Sunday night.

New York reached the USL Championship game after a nailbiting penalty victory over Louisville City FC last week. The team has had several heros over the course of their playoff run but Brandon Allen has proven to be a solid goalscorer with tallies in each of the three knockout games, counting penalties.

Swope Park Rangers advanced with a much easier 3-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. The first year team coached by 2015 NASL finalist head coach Marc Dos Santos has played with an aggressive style. The team has scored three goals in each of their three playoff games, proving to be difficult to keep off the scoresheet.


PROJECTED STARTING XI:

New York Red Bull II: Meara; Powder, Long, Carroll, Najem; Mezger, Adams, Bezecourt; Etienne Jr., Valot, Allen

Swope Park Rangers: Zendajas; Grant, Didic, Ballo, Pasher; Appiah, Duke, Gonzalez; Tyrpak, Ayrton, Kelly

Player to Watch: Vincent Bezecourt has been a legit playoff MVP contender with his freekicks being a tablesetter for NYRB II offense. Any foul near the box has sent opposing defenses into chaos as Bezecourt has the ability to put in the perfect pass or go straight for goal with deadly accuracy.

X-Factor: The unknown. These two teams have never played each other and have little to scout since they played in two completely separate conferences. Dos Santos will have a bit of experience with finals in New York after last year’s NASL Championship loss to the New York Cosmos. He has also been a winner in previous versions of the USL. However, this will be a game where the unknowns could define the outcome.

Where to Watch: ESPNU at 8PM


This USL Championship represents the first where both teams are MLS2 reserve sides. Last year’s appearance by LA Galaxy II nearly saw an MLS2 side take home the trophy, but in this campaign, we are guaranteed our first MLS2 champion.

Both New York and Swope Park have worked extensively with their MLS first team, but in very different ways. Marc Dos Santos has instilled his own playing identity at Swope Park while in New York, John Wolyniec has taken the first team’s mentality and made it work seamlessly. Both sides have the support of their upper division classmates and are hoping to bring home the championship.

This will be the first nationally televised game for either team and first championship game for both teams. Expect the unexpected in an unprecedented game for the new USL.