Four years, four straight playoff appearances for New York Red Bulls II. Once again it seems like John Wolyniec’s men are peaking at the right time.
NYRB II peaking at the right time once again
It had been almost a year since NYRB II earned a victory on the road. Last Saturday, they defeated against North Carolina FC. They didn’t wait long to achieve their second win and no one should be surprised.
Despite NYRB II failing to win any games on the road until Saturday, they still played well in the majority of them. They had more draws on the road (10) than anyone in the Eastern Conference this season. The biggest problem they faced on this four game road trip was conceding too many goals.
In their first two games in September, NYRB II conceded 6 goals, three on the road against Indy Eleven and three at home against Toronto FC 2. Before the start of the road trip, NYRB II had conceded 27 goals in 13 games away from home. With their playoff hopes in the balance, the backline knew they had to perform. They didn’t disappoint.
They conceded just 4 goals in 4 matches on the road trip. In two of the matches (North Carolina and Nashville SC) they played down a man for significant portions of the match.
Hassan Ndam, Kevin Politz, Ethan Kutler, Allen Yanes and others deserve a lot of credit for putting in good shifts to keep this team’s playoff hopes alive. Of course, Evan Louro can’t be forgotten for his work in net as the goalkeeper made some stellar saves on the road trip to preserve the scorelines.
While the defense has improved, the offense continues to be dangerous and full of options. Whether it’s Anatole Abang or Tom Barlow up top, with Jared Stroud, Amando Moreno, Jose Aguinaga, or Andrew Tinari behind them, they continue to create chances. Chris Lema and Steven Echevarria have continued to put in good shifts in the midfield and Cristian Casseres didn’t miss a beat when he played on Tuesday as well.
A lot of credit has to go to Wolyniec and the staff for preparing these guys. Even without a win on the road, they kept pushing and finally earned two road wins right before the playoffs start next week. The way pieces are coming together is similar to last year and everyone knows what happened when this team made the playoffs.
Nevertheless, the season is not over just yet. NYRB II ends the season against an old foe in Bob Lilly and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Unlike the playoffs where they will be on the road most of the time, NYRB II will finish the season at home in a type of game that will have a playoff feel to it.
Time will tell if NYRB II can replicate their magical run from last year’s playoffs, but with the depth of the squad and the fact they’ve exercised their road demons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them back in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography