Match: Penn FC at New York Red Bulls II
Date: Friday, August 3rd
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, NJ)
Refs: REF: Eric Tattersall AR1: Ian Mckay AR2: Justen Lopez 4TH: John Hartley
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How NYRB II will look: The Baby Bulls have carried over much of the same style that has served them well these last few seasons. They’re scoring like crazy once again, and their forty-four goals in 2018 currently leads the entire USL. They’re particularly good at scoring when they’re at MSU Soccer Park. Just ask ATL UTD 2 and Richmond who suffered 6-1 and 5-1 defeats there in July.
But NYRB II has seen their offense dry up at various points this season. Ottawa shut them out twice in 2018 and they were only able to score one goal in the second half last week when they played the entire half against a ten man Tampa Bay Rowdies side.
The most dangerous part about this team is that they don’t have just one major goal scoring threat. Multiple team members have stepped up at various points, so defenses can’t just focus on shutting down one big play maker. With that being said, keep an eye on Amando Moreno and Jared Stroud as they’re two goal scorers who has been particularly hot lately.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC showed some grit to come back and equalize last week against Charlotte, but the team has to feel like they could have gotten the win. They stuck with a defensive formation for most of the match, but that left them with few goal scoring opportunities. They didn’t get an equalizer until the made some subs and moved into a more attack oriented formation. So the question for Friday night is will they try to stay defensive and shut down the NYRB II attack, or will they come out looking to attack and maybe turn the match into a shootout?
Walter Ramirez made his debut last week and he put in a good shift as a replacement on the left wing for Freddy Opoku, who just transferred to HB Koge in Denmark. Hopefully having some more time with the team will allow him to build more chemistry with the other Penn FC attackers.
What to expect: Harrisburg actually did quite well against NYRB II last season as they picked up two wins over the (then) defending USL champions. But quite a lot has changed since last year and the Baby Bulls are probably looking to run up the score on Penn FC to avenge those past defeats.
Both of these teams have dealt with split personalities at various points this season, so the outcome of Friday’s match is going to be based on which version of each team decides to show up. Both sides want to come out firing and the best way to ensure a victory is to put away two (or three or four) goals away early. If either of these teams can pull that off, then they should be able to kick back on rely on their defenses to see them through the rest of the match.
Now there’s a distinct possibility that this move could backfire leading to a back and forth shootout between these two sides. Penn FC has shown a remarkable ability to come from behind this season, so if NYRB II let them stay close they are more than capable of pulling a goal or two back very quickly. Both of these teams earned 3-3 results when they visited Louisville, so maybe a similar result is in the cards when they clash.
PREDICTION: I think this Penn FC team can be competitive with NYRB II, but it’s tough to pick against a team that has only dropped two home matches so far this season. I think Penn FC scores first, but NYRB II adds two in the second half to get the win.