Preview: NYRB II Face Louisville City FC

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

New York Red Bull II is just one home win away from the USL Championship game but second place Louisville City FC stand in their way.

New York is still riding high off of last week’s penalty shootout victory over Rochester but Louisville has quietly been dominant during their playoff run, yet to allow a goal in two games.

A late season defensive turnaround for Louisville has sparked their run in the playoffs and made them one of the most dangerous sides in the competition. New York has still shown the ability to blow up the oppositions with multiple goals in their last four games but Louisville represents a different challenge. One that John Wolyniec and his staff will need to be sure to not underestimate.


PROJECTED STARTING XI:

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

Louisville City FC: Ranjitsingh; Smith, Reynolds, Craig, Morad; Abend, Quinn; Darces, Davis IV, Rasmussen; Hoffman

Player to Watch: Brandon Allen has not been as flashy as other players on the team in the playoffs but he has three goals and a penalty shootout tally to his credit. He has also been exactly what John Wolyniec has needed, providing physicality on the ball and freeing up space for players like Etienne to make runs. More importantly, Allen has been where he needs to be to bang in rebounds. He will be a definite distraction for Louisville’s defense and one that the league still hasn’t been able to figure out.

X-Factor: Overconfidence. New York finally slayed the dragon last week, downing 2015 USL Champion Rochester Rhinos. Now they will need to refocus and not look past Louisville City. NYRB II has been a very dedicated side in 2016 but they have yet to face such a dramatic moment as what occurred last weekend. Louisville will surely be looking to jump on the home side early and catch them off-guard.


Louisville City is far more dangerous than many experts are portraying them to be. Chandler Hoffman may have taken a dip in production, but the team’s defense has gotten stronger. They are a side that is capable of winning close games and giving up far less than what they’re given credit for. Should New York fall behind, it will be an uphill battle against a side that has yet to surrender a goal in the USL playoffs.

Still, New York Red Bull II has to be considered favorites. They scored three goals against Rochester, (more than any Rhinos’ opponent this season) and completely decimated Orlando City B in the quarterfinals. The offensive production will be key for the home side as Brandon Allen, Vincent Bezecourt and Derrick Etienne Jr. will be tough to break down all at the same time.