Three straight Eastern Conference Finals in three years. New York Red Bulls II have become one of the most consistent teams in USL under head coach John Wolyniec. However, it might be difficult to maintain that consistency this year with a lot of the experience gone.
NYRB II exercised options on five players at the end of the year. They included Jordan Scarlett, Chris Lema, Jared Stroud, Amando Moreno and Tom Barlow. Unlike last year NYRB II will have only one defender on their roster heading into 2019. The team declined options on Ethan Kutler, Niko de Vera, Lucas Stauffer and Kevin Politz. Allen Yanes is out of contract. FC Cincinnati selected Hassan Ndam in the MLS Expansion draft.
Scarlett had a lot of impressive moments in 2017 but did not replicate that form in 2018. He battled injuries and spent much of the year on the bench. Evan Louro took a major step forward in his development. He returns to the team. Defending is one of the major issues for the team over the past few seasons. Who comes in is unknown.
The midfield is another area of uncertainty facing this team in the coming year. The only returning midfielder is Chris Lema. Cristian Casseres most likely takes Tyler Adams’ spot in MLS. Andrew Tinari, Steven Echevarria and Jose Aguinaga will not be back.
Casseres was loaned down last year and the partnership of Casseres, Lema, and Tinari was a cornerstone for NYRBII’s success. Jean-Christophe Koffi could be the replacement for Casseres if the first team decides to loan him down, but that remains to be seen.
Familiar faces up front
Up front is where the experience will come into play for the team. Amando Moreno, Jared Stroud and Tom Barlow will be back and they supplied a lot of the goals for the team. Stroud who was NYRB II’s best player could make the first team with a strong start which could hinder the team a little if it were to happen.
Moreno was a big part of the team’s success, but injuries slowed him down in the later months of the season. Barlow saw more time after Brian White’s promotion to the first team and will look to build on his strong second half.
There’s a lot of reason to think this is a transition year for NYRB II, while they do have some experience returning up top, the backline and midfield will have a lot of new faces. Many have expected a drop off from NYRB II because they bring in basically a whole new team every year.
John Wolyniec and his staff deserve a lot of credit as they have continued to develop and win with the players they are given.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography