The New York Red Bulls II enter their fourth consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference semi-finals on their best run of form this season. Despite heading into Cincinnati to face the USL regular season champions, they feel FC Cincinnati is the team under pressure.
NYRBII feel “no pressure” heading into FC Cincinnati clash
“I don’t think for us that we have a lot of pressure,” said Hassan Ndam this week. “It is always like a big challenge of course they are a really good team and we are trying to win the game, and get us better , they have to have a lot of pressure, because they are champions and everything, we have to go down there and make sure we get the win, We don’t care about a result, but we are going in to win. We have to make sure to defend, we are on top of everything and make sure we take care of the top player in the USL and take care of the business.”
FC Cincinnati’s talented attack received a substantial boost midseason in the form of designated player Fanendo Adi. Adi is still settling into life in Ohio, but the striker’s talent is well-known thanks to his MLS tenure. Ndam and the NYRBII backline recognize Adi’s talent, but feel they are already well prepared to defend the striker.
“For me at the end of the day I just give respect,” said Ndam. “He did all these things in MLS and he is the top scorer here, he’s a great player and has great ability, but at the end of the day I practice with Bradley Wright-Phillips, defending BWP is like I think [better] than defending him. I learn a lot from that and everything goes in 50-50 and we end up seeing who the winner is, I’m not going to say anything that I’m going to dominate the game, but I am going to help my teammates as we [try to] get a win as a team moving forward to the next level.”
The underdog role suits NYRBII. Last season, heading into the playoffs as the seventh seed, NYRBII played fearlessly against superior opposition. Their fearless play led the team to a second consecutive trip to the conference finals. John Wolyniec thinks his team is not only capable, but any team in the USL playoffs is capable of forcing an upset.
Last weekend, Nashville SC forced FCC to a penalty shootout as the eight seed. Could that match provide clues to how NYRBII will approach the match?
“Yea, it is hard because Nashville plays a bit different from us,” said Wolyniec. “So the game is going to look quite different, when we are on the field, but for when a #1 plays a #8 and it has to go to PK’s, anything can happen in the playoffs. I think that is the biggest thing that we can take from it. Every team is vulnerable”
Every team is vulnerable.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography