USL Champions: Red Bulls II take league behind Allen hat trick

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

HARRISON, N.J. – Red Bulls II managed to do something the senior team hasn’t done in over 20 years: win a league championship.

A Brandon Allen hat trick led New York Red Bull II to their first USL Championship in just their second year of existence, defeating Swope Park Rangers 5-1 at Red Bull Arena Sunday night.

Allen’s two second half goals laid to rest any chance of a Swope Park comeback, igniting the team’s largest ever crowd of over four thousand fans throughout the final stanza. Derrick Etienne Jr. and Vincent Bezecourt scored the team’s other two goals in a rout of their Western Conference rival.

The first half was dominated by New York. They controlled possession, strung together impressive passes and had the more dangerous opportunities. Derrick Etienne Jr. broke the scoring open in the 19th minute when Brandon Allen found him at the top of the box. Etienne curled an effort past Ranger keeper Zendejas. New York doubled the lead before the half as the team’s leading scorer Brandon Allen finished a ball that found him free in the box.

Swope Park Rangers responded in the second half with more fire, pressing New York in the early going. For all their efforts, they were unable to place anything of merit on goal. They did, however, finally break through in the 74th minute when substitute Tomas Granitto scored, sending the final 15 minutes into question.

New York locked the game away with a dazzling display in the 85th minute. First, Stefano Bonomo’s acrobatic efforts to keep a ball in play saw Allen bury it in the back of the net for his second. Then, only two minutes later, Allen scored again to capture his USL Cup hat trick.

Vincent Bezecourt put the final nail in the coffin with a goal in stoppage time.

The win is the first league championship for the Red Bull organization on any level in American soccer, led by a team comprised of mostly young academy players and MLS prospects. It is also the first time that an MLS2 side has taken the USL Championship.

STARTING XI:

New York Red Bull II: Meara; O’Toole (’66 Plewa), Long, Carroll, Najem; Metzger, Adams, Bezecourt; Etienne Jr. (’90 Mines), Valot (’81 Valot), Allen (’89 Schmoll)

Swope Park Rangers: Zendejas; Grant (’89 Barrett), Didic, Ballo, ALvarado; Duke (’89 Molano), Appiah (’45 Granitto), Ayrton; Tyrpak, Pasher, Kelly

GOALS:
’19 (NYRB II) Derrick Etienne Jr. assisted by Brandon Allen
’39 (NYRB II) Brandon Allen
’74 (Swope Park Rangers) Tomas Granitto
’85 (NYRB II) Brandon Allen
’87 (NYRB II) Brandon Allen
’90 (NYRB II) Vincent Bezecourt

DISCIPLINE:
72′ (NYRB II) YELLOW CARD Dan Metzger