Two first round trips in two years to Charleston, the same result for New York Red Bulls II. John Wolyniec’s men were able to grab a hard fought result on Saturday which saw them advance to the USL Eastern Conference semifinals next week against FC Cincinnati. Let’s talk about some things that happened during the match.
Three Thoughts: NYRB II Defeat Charleston Battery
Tom Barlow Continues to Impress
No Brian White, no Anatole Abang, no problem for NYRB II’s attack. Tom Barlow has a thing for scoring in Charleston and with his goal on Saturday has scored 4 goals (3 with the mask, one without it) in two games against the Battery. The goal was a great effort and started after some hard work from Amando Moreno and Andrew Tinari with the counter press to win the ball back, Moreno picked out Barlow on the left side with a diagonal pass. Barlow controlled the ball well and had a good amount of space and curled one top corner which left the keeper no chance. Barlow has now scored 3 goals in his last 4 appearances
The goals have been a plus for Barlow, but what also has improved is his ability on the ball. He combined well with teammates by holding up the play and with his distribution. This is something he was having trouble with earlier in the year, but it seems to be improving the more game time he gets. There has been a lot of talk about the form of Jared Stroud to end the season, but Barlow’s run shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The defense keeps a clean sheet
NYRB II’s defense had been much better in the final month of the season and they clearly carried the momentum into the postseason. There were concerns about Hassan Ndam’s availability earlier in the week, but he and Kevin Politz started this game and hardly put a foot wrong in the central defense. Ndam won 14 out of 16 duels, 10 out of 11 aerial duels, had 3 tackles, 4 clearances, and two interceptions. Politz won 9 out of 10 duels, 6 out of 7 aerial duels, with 3 clearances and two interceptions. Both of them did a solid job of taking away the threat of Ataullah Guerra and limiting the chances he did have.
Ethan Kutler and Allen Yanes did a good job on the outside as well. They did have some moments where they allowed too much for Charleston to swing in dangerous crosses, but defended better in the 2nd half. Yanes had two tackles, 5 clearances and 4 interceptions while Kutler had two tackles and two interceptions. Credit also has to go to Chris Lema and Andrew Tinari in the holding midfield as their counter pressing was able to thwart some chances for Charleston. Tinari had 5 tackles, while Lema had 3 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 3 clearances. The clean sheet can only serve as momentum for next week’s test against a dangerous FC Cincinnati attack.
Evan Louro continues his postseason heroics
He hasn’t really been talked about a lot this season, but Evan Louro continues to show why he’s RBNY’s goalie of the future. He earned the starting job late in the season last year and made a name for himself with some incredible saves in the playoffs against Tampa Bay and Louisville City. He’s been a wall back in goal for NYRB II this season and he proved it again on Saturday.
In the first half after some good work from Charleston on the left hand side the ball came into Gordon Wild who had a shot destined for the near post bottom corner, but Louro made a spectacular stop to deny the forward the equalizer.
Things wouldn’t get any better for Wild in the second half as he was found with a cross by Tah Anunga but his shot was stopped by Louro and the keeper smothered the rebound. Wild had one more chance to beat NYRB II’s keeper on the counter in the 72nd minute as he tried to place one in the far corner, but Louro push it away and made it look easy.
NYRB II have a tough trip to Nippert Stadium against FC Cincinnati next weekend, but if they continue their strong play on the road, Wolyniec’s men could find themselves in the Eastern Conference final for the third year in a row.