Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs New York Red Bulls II
Date: Wednesday, July 12th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, PA)
How New York will look: New York makes its way to Harrisburg after playing just up the road in Bethlehem on Sunday. They lost that match 2-0, and they looked outmatched by the Steel for most of the afternoon. The Red Bulls are still holding onto a playoff spot, but the 2017 edition of the team has been a shadow of last year’s championship squad.
However, the core playmakers for New York are still a real threat. Players like Brandon Allen, Vincent Bezecourt, and goalkeeper Evan Louro always seem to give the City Islanders fits, and they’re looking to turn things around by getting a dominant win over Harrisburg. Justin Bilyeu also caused some trouble for Harrisburg the last time these two teams met, but don’t expect him to have an impact this time. New York waived him at the end of June.
It’s also possible that the NYRB II squad will be somewhat depleted going into Wednesday’s match because their parent club has an Open Cup match against the New England Revolution on the following day. MLS teams tend to call up fewer USL players once they reach the Open Cup quarterfinals, but a few of the Baby Bulls might still be unavailable because of it.
How Harrisburg will look: The City Islanders come back to FNB field with a little less wind in their sails after dropping a tough 1-0 match in Rochester on Saturday. To make matters worse, Pedro Ribeiro picked up an injury during Saturday’s match, and he’ll be missing an indeterminate amount of time because of it. Injuries have plagued the Islanders throughout 2017, and this latest one couldn’t have come at a worse time or at a worse position. Ghanaian Ropapa Mensah is the most likely choice to start up top, but he has only seen limited minutes so far this season because of some injuries of his own.
What to expect: Both of these teams come into Wednesday’s match looking for a pick-me-up. New York has only managed to collect four points from their last five matches, and they can’t afford to lose a second match to the City Islanders if they want to improve their position on the table
Meanwhile, Harrisburg has a big opportunity to improve their position over the course of their upcoming home stand where they’ll be playing three matches in seven days. Despite all of their struggles, they’re only five points below the 8th place position (currently occupied by NYRB II). It still feels early, but this next week could determine the outcome of the City Islanders’ season.
Expect Harrisburg to rely on goalkeeper Brandon Miller (who continues to play lights out in every match) to keep New York off of the scoreboard. But with their offensive options limited due to injury, they’ll have to get creative in order to find a way onto the scoreboard. Watch for Harrisburg to work the counter more than they have in previous matches to try to catch NYRB II out of sorts. The City Islanders should also consider turning to their speediest players in order to slip through the defense and score goals just like Bethlehem did on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Harrisburg has played well at home, and NYRB II can’t seem to get it together right now. I’m predicting a 1-0 win for the City Islanders.