USL Preview: Red Bulls II vs. Rochester Rhinos

New York Red Bulls II logo USL

USL Beat Writer

New York Red Bulls II, the senior team’s USL reserve side, takes the field on Saturday afternoon for the first time against one of the leagues oldest and most storied US clubs, the Rochester Rhinos, at Red Bull Arena.

The off-season has been a mystery for RBNY II. Since the announcement of their participation back in January, only one player appears to be publicly signed to the team, Tyler Adams; a development prodigy from the team’s academy. Other names have also begun to pop up in social media, including those of Academy products Kyle Zajec, Marcello Borges, Alex Clay, and Mike da Fonte. In fact, da Fonte went so far as to debut the team’s home shirt with his Red Bull announcement over Twitter.

Mike da Fonte USL Red Bulls

One would only expect that the rest of the roster would be filled by reserve team players and MLS bench warmers looking to prove their worth to the mothership. What we are left with, then, is a series of questions that will only be answered once the team takes the field on Saturday.

Will Red Bull II Also Play “Up Tempo Soccer?”

Ali Curtis and Jesse Marsch have touted a more up tempo, high pressing style of soccer on the MLS side that has proven to be effective through their first two games. One would expect, since the team may be relying heavily on the academy players in coming years, that the USL side will mirror the same tactical game plan. That style has already found success in USL this season with Seattle Sounders 2 pushing the reigning Champions Sacramento FC to their limits and taking advantage of the holes they created in the defense.

It’s hard to say if those tactics will work for Red Bull II until we see just what roster will be present the day of the game. Head coach John Wolyniec has had success with the Red Bull reserve team in the past, finding success on the field with predominantly academy standouts. Competition will be much tougher for Wolyniec from day one in the USL as Rochester is a team looking to improve but have far better pedigree than the newly minted MLS affiliate.

Rochester Hopes to Improve on Mediocre 2014

To summarize Rochester’s 2014 season in one word, lackluster would be the best fit. The team had 10 wins with 10 losses and 8 draws stretched across the 28 game season. They never managed to gain momentum, and despite making the playoffs, saw a quick dismissal at the hands of the LA Galaxy 2. Head coach Bob Lilley won’t underestimate the MLS affiliate teams, especially when they bring as many mysteries as New York Red Bull II.

Rochester will also hope to better their goal scoring tally, which ranked second to last in the USL in 2014. Despite that, they were very stingy with their goals allowed ranking as the second best team in 2014.

All of this means that the Rhinos had one of the best defenses but were rather toothless on offense – something that head coach John Wolyniec will surely know and hope to exploit at Red Bull Arena.

The Crowd Will Be a Mystery

Red Bull II will open their campaign at Red Bull Arena, one of the most state-of-the-art soccer venues in North America. If we look at the average attendance of the USL in 2014, there will most likely be just above 3,000 fans in the stadium, leaving the building quite empty and potentially quiet as well. Whether there will be a strong showing from the Red Bull supporters groups remains to be seen, but the expectation should be a much less raucous experience than most fans are accustomed to at Red Bull Arena. The new USL team might find that the “12th Man” may not be there to support the young side.

Still, there is an air of excitement about Red Bull II’s first game. Top prospects and academy stand-outs will get a chance to show the top brass what they are worth. The roster is a big unknown, but expectations should be very high considering the success Red Bull has enjoyed from Academy products.


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  • Anonymous

    Strong showing for RB2? Don’t count on it. RB1 had much less than the announced 21,000. A shame really. It didn’t have to be this way. But Curtis made his bed. The attendance for RB2 will be a ghost town. Should have played it in Florham Park

  • Anonymous

    I wonder on what page of the 300 plan says have your reserves play in an empty arena a la Giants Stadium.

  • facebook_axelhernandeznyc


    • Anonymous


  • Kevin D

    I come to complain about the Red Bulls and Ali Curtis. I cry like a little girl over Mike Petke. Ali Curtis went to Duke and I am on a payment plan to play for my $300 season ticket. I voted for Obama twice. #MetroMorons

    • Anonymous


  • Austin tx

    I really don’t understand red bull fans. Half of the fan base likes the owner and half doesn’t.
    Get your act together red bull fans, if I didn’t like red bull then I wouldn’t spend a penny going to the games and probably just watch the games on tv.
    If I like the teams new direction, then it’s end of story.
    But from my point of view, for those fans who don’t like red bull, then stay away and don’t spend a penny on them. Their name sucks, their jersey loos like a NASCAR or F1 red bull team.
    Get the bulls out.

    • facebook_axelhernandeznyc

      You are a loser too

  • facebook_axelhernandeznyc

    I just whine and complain, people know me for being a total wimp

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