Preview: NYRB II End Season with Tough Rochester Test

IMAGE, NEWYORKREDBULLS.COM

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

New York Red Bull II will not have an easy road to the playoffs as they end the regular season against the USL’s best team, the Rochester Rhinos, in Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday night.

The clash poetically bookends NYRB II’s first season as they play the team that they started against back in March. Both teams have come a very long way. For Rochester, they have gone on a dominating run, suffering only one loss in 2015. For New York, they are one of only three MLS reserve sides to make the USL playoffs and in their first year to match that achievement.

Despite already being a playoff bound team, New York still has a tremendous amount to play for in their last fixture. Currently sitting in fourth place, Red Bull II could leap frog into the third position and host their first ever playoff game. Achieving that mark will certainly be in high order considering how dominant the Rhinos have been. However, there is certainly enough motivation to keep this game from being monotonous.


Starting XI:

New York Red Bull II: Castano; McLaws, Plewa, Da Fonte, Heffron; Stolz, Williams, Obekop, Akinyode, Sanchez; Bonomo

Rochester Rhinos: Miller; Apostolopolous, Obasi, McMahon, Ringhof; Totsch, Mendoza, Garzi, Forbes; Dixon, dos Santos

Previous Results: 0-0 draw on March 28th; 2-0 Rochester victory on April 26th (ROC goals Dixon ’40, Mendoza ’67)

Players to Watch: Leo Stolz has quietly been putting together a very impressive season. It hasn’t been reflected on score sheets but his efforts have made New York’s midfield one of the best in the USL. Against Rochester, strength in the midfield is an absolute necessity. For the most part, the Rhinos don’t score many goals. However, their midfielders like Mendoza and Forbes grind away at the opposition. Stolz has both the size and talent to be an effective tool against undoubtedly the best midfield in the league.

X-Factor: Rhinos’ mystique. When you traverse twenty-six games and only have one loss on your record, an aura of invincibility will surely follow. The Rochester Rhinos have that. Not only have they suffered a mere one loss this season but they have also surrendered an astoundingly low number of goals as well. Their defense seems nearly impenetrable and their offense is potent enough to almost guarantee a result.

Prediction: 1-1 draw


In many ways this game is the ultimate litmus test for John Wolyniec and his New York Red Bull II team. Seven months ago, their journey into professional soccer began against the Rochester Rhinos. All this time later, their first season will end against that very same team. A strong performance would galvanizing; a testament to all the hard work, providing the last proof of just how strong the Red Bull Academy system can be.

For Rochester, there isn’t much on the line. They have won the title of best regular season team and will control home field advantage for as long as they are in the playoffs. The true test for Bob Liley will be if he can keep the team’s eyes on this game and not the impending playoff battles that are to come. A team like New York could gain major momentum with a win and as we saw with the team’s victory over Chelsea earlier this season, momentum is something that can spurn young talent to do tremendous things.

 


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