Match: New York Red Bull II vs. Bethlehem Steel FC
Date: Friday, June 16th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: MSU Soccer Park (Montclair State University)
Referees: REF: Luis Arroyo AR1: Tyler Wyrostek AR2: Joseph Paolini 4TH: Dave Breckner
Steel FC All Time v Red Bull II (W-L-T): 0-3-0
What Red Bull II Should Look Like:
If you’ve ever seen Red Bull play at any level, in any league, there you go! I guess for posterity sake I’ll elaborate. First let’s just address the talent level that NYRB has. The Baby Bulls don’t necessarily have the same amount of raw talent they did last year when they basically ran the USL, but they have some dynamic players. Zeiko Lewis, the Bermudan with an Independence Day-esque speech is notable for more than just that.
This man has jokes! More importantly, he put himself under a microscope right away, which might not have been the best idea! It’s amazing. He’s been okay so far this year - one goal in 616 minutes with ten fouls drawn, but now that I said that I look forward to his inevitable hat trick against Bethlehem Friday night. Vincent Bezecourt and Florian Valot are also two incredible talents, with Bezecourt being the heart of the Red Bull attack.
They edged possession against Louisville but still got stomped 3-0. Obviously not having the services of Ryan Meara will maybe have you concede more goals than having him, but how exactly did Louisville hang three on the Red Bulls? Smith’s goal was just some poor marking by the Red Bulls’ defense, with Smith making a clever little run when the Red Bulls’ defense left the top of the box open. Brian Ownby got behind the Baby Bulls’ inexperienced back line, set up a damn yard sale and then punished them for the 2-0 lead. RB II’s back line fell asleep (hard to blame them when you’re down 2-0 late on, but I digress) for the third and Richard Ballard found his corner. This isn’t the Aaron Long-Zach Carroll show from last year, and teams have figured that out.
What Steel FC Should Look Like:
Unfortunately, all signs point to Adam Najem starting for the Union against his former club. This totally ruins my big Najem vs Najem angle as his brother, David, plays for RB II. Anyway, all the stuff about Louisville offensively can be broken down into two ideas.
-Red Bull II are weak on the wings and will fall victim to good crosses
-If you can take long range shots that are accurate, do it.
First point: Bethlehem gets most of their offense via the wing. Obviously Cory Burke is unavailable due to just getting back to the States after a Jamaica cap, but look for Chris Nanco and US Open Cup goal scorer Marcus Epps to find plenty of space, whether they create it themselves or get unleashed wide. Nanco, Epps and even Seku Conneh love to cut inside as well, and that might cause some issues for Red Bull, especially if Steel can get some late runs into the box.
Second point: I believe that Steel scored a goal pretty similar to Kyle Smith’s last week in St. Louis. Seku Conneh drove into the box, tee’d the ball for James Chambers (who made a late run) and the captain buried it. Seku himself also rifled off a bullet against Ottawa from well outside the box. Red Bull II’s defense isn’t the aggressive, counter attack slinging machine it was last year. With guys like Conneh and Chambers, even Dawson McCartney and Anthony Fontana, who have cannons for legs, Red Bull II might be in a bit of danger.
Prediction: Out of teams that didn’t beat the mighty mighty ‘16 Baby Bulls (who are not a Mighty Mighty Bosstones tribute band) Harrisburg and Louisville got their first wins against the 2 club this year. With an improved side from last year, as well as a big upgrade in Hugh Roberts who should neutralize Beze and Valot, Steel join that list, final score of 2-0.