Preview: Red Bulls II head to Bethlehem Steel

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

New York Red Bull II is traveling to Lehigh Valley on Sunday afternoon to play 10th place Bethlehem Steel. The two teams have met twice this season with both fixtures going in New York’s favor.

Both teams could not be headed in more opposite directions. NYRB II has won their last five games, only allowing one goal over that stretch. Bethlehem Steel are currently in their worst run of form in 2016, having not won a game since July 14th. That is eight games without a win and five of those results have been losses.


PROJECTED STARTING XI:

NEW YORK RED BULL II: Meara; Long, Schmoll, Carroll, Najem; Metzger, Williams, Etienne Jr.; Valot, Flemmings, Allen

BETHLEHEM STEEL FC: Jones; Richter, Trusty, Conceicao, Washington; Jones, Akinyode, Chambers; Restrepo, Fernandez, Ayuk

PLAYER TO WATCH: Aaron Long made USL team of the week for his performance against FC Cincinnati. He has proven to be one of the more solid players for NYRB II on defense, capable of serving in multiple positions. The defensive midfielder from Seattle Sounders 2 in 2015 has made a perfect transition to the backline and played second most minutes of anyone on that defense. He’s been a big reason why NYRB II has the goals against record they do in 2016.

X-FACTOR: NYRB II’s explosive offense has been a new facet of their game over the five game winning streak. Not only have they held the opposition to few goals but they’ve found the net more often with crisp chances from Flemmings, Allen and even Williams in the midfield. Steel FC will need to be wary as their offense is also impressive but their defense is shakey. They have not had a shutout since their 3-0 July 14th win over Wilmington.

HOW TO WATCH: YouTube at 3PM on Sunday 8/4


New York Red Bull II solidified a playoff spot three weeks ago against Louisville City FC but now look to lock down first place in the East. With five games left in the season and a six point lead, John Wolyniec’s side needs only to maintain for the rest of the season.

However, that gameplan is not what the Red Bull II has adopted. They are playing harder and scoring more than they have at any point this season.

For Bethlehem Steel FC, the playoff picture is becoming grim. New York, Louisville, Cincinnati, Richmond, Rochester, Charlotte and Charleston have locked up spots. The last spot is currently being held by Orlando City B. They are currently six points back and will need some help from Orlando oppnents to pull into the picture. It can be done but they will need to climb a tall mountain against New York to get there.