The author Tom Barlow once said “Wear a mask long enough and it will grow with your skin. Try to take it off and you’ll bleed.”

Who was That Masked Man?

In a strange twist, the New York Red Bulls II player Tom Barlow wore a mask Saturday night when his team took on the Charleston Battery. After the performance he had in the match, Barlow might think twice about taking his mask off any time soon.

Barlows’ game changing hat-trick was the difference in a thrilling match that ended in a 4-4 tie at MUSC Health Stadium. Barlow had yet to score a hat-trick during the USL season. Barlow hardly saw minutes to start the season. He sat on the bench behind Brian White and Stefano Bonomo, battling injuries, fitness, and two quality strikers.

The New York Red Bulls drafted Barlow as the 39th overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. The Saint Louis native spent four years at the University of Wisconsin. There he lead the Big-10 in scoring in 2017 (10 goals in 22 matches).

Waiting in the wings proved difficult, but the striker kept his nose to the grindstone, working hard to find his way into the lineup. The departure of Stefano Bonomo and Brian White signing a contract at the MLS level meant Barlow had a greater opportunity to shine in USL.

“No one’s guaranteed a spot,” said Barlow on Raising Bulls earlier this season. “Everyday you have to go in and earn you place. Everyone’s competitive, so that’s a good thing. I know for me, I had a little bit of an injury. So I wasn’t seeing the roster, which is tough. But it pushes you to work harder and make the 18. You gotta keep pushing. It’s a long season, you never know what’s going to happen.”

In Barlow’s 15 appearances this season, the striker scored 6 goals and notched an additional and two assists. Head coach John Wolyniec appreciates the different dimension Barlow brings to the NYRBII attack.

“Yeah, Tom’s interesting. He’s a little bit of a work in progress, but he’s got a lot of tools,” said Wolyniec back at the beginning of August. “We liked him in college at Wisconsin – he works, so we knew that part would fit. He runs, he’s faster than you think. He’s stronger than you think, and he can score. So, that part’s good too. He’s a great package and I hope he keeps building on it and keeps getting better.”

Barlow’s form did continue to improve. His match against the Battery speaks to his improvement, spending his brief appearance pulling NYRBII back into the match.

Shortly after Brian Anunga picked up a red card in 61th minute, Tom Barlow came off the bench and went to work, earning a penalty kick in the 64th minute to bring New York back into the match.

He wasn’t done. Barlow scored once again on nice goal in 73rd minute off a pass from Stroud to cut the Battery’s lead to one.

Finally, in the 73rd minute, off a high cross from Yanes, it was Barlow again, taking the deflection and buried it in the back of the net.

Although the match ended in the 4-4 draw, it was Barlow coming off the bench to help steal a point on the road the Charleston Battery, keeping the Red Bulls playoff chances alive as they head home to MSU Soccer Park to play the Ottawa Fury FC on Friday.

Photo by Bill Twomey Photography

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