A familiar set of faces carried over from the 2018 season, but most of those comprise the midfield and attack. On the other hand, the backline experienced a big churn holding onto just Jordan Scarlett and Allen Yanes. Yet, despite their lack of experience playing together, NYRBII are starting to show signs of improvement in an area that was once their achilles heel.
After the 1-1 draw, Jordan Scarlett senses a change in the team’s mentality, “I think going back from last year, we didn’t really have clean sheets, even though we didn’t get one this year, I think we are focused more on defense first”.
NYRBII tie Nashville SC 1-1
Key to NYRBII improving on last year’s campaign will be the pairing of Sean Nealis and Jordan Scarlett. Scarlett spoke highly of his partner in center defense saying, “he’s really fast. I’m pretty comfortable if there’s balls in behind,
I don’t get too nervous cause I know he’s going to be there. I think in practice we’ve been playing together a lot and we’ve just been gelling good so if we keep going, I think we can have a solid season.”
As always with a young team like NYRBII, there is going to be growing pains along the way. Sean Nealis’ errant header back to Evan Louro resulted in Nashville’s only goal of the game. Yet, Head Coach John Wolyniec saw the play as a learning experience for the group, “My commentary through that was, ‘How can we help Sean through that?’, ‘Is it communication from the goalkeeper?’ ‘Is Scarlett dealing with the forward while Sean is dealing with the ball?’. There’s a lot of ways. It’s easy to say ‘bad pass back’, but that’s not an easy play. For a young guy, Sean needs to learn maybe a little bit of savviness there, figure that play out a little better, but he’ll get better and he’ll learn. I’m not worried about that”.
Edgardo Rito’s first start
Another bright spot from the draw was the admirable play from Edgardo Rito. With Allen Yanes playing with the Guatemalan national team, Rito got his first start with NYRBII. Rito consistently got down the line and on several occasions almost provided a game-winning play.
John Wolyniec was impressed with Rito’s aggresiveness, “I thought he did well. He shows some energy, shows a willingness to go forward, good individual defending. He’s still new, the tactics are still a little bit of a work in progress but overall he had a good effort. I know after the game he was a little frustrated, thought he could have made a difference in the game because he got into some really good spots.”
As the season goes on there will be rotation and call-up’s that will certainly test the Red Bulls ability to keep goals out. But Sunday was an encouraging sign against a team with talented attackers. Rece Buckmaster showed well, and Rito’s performance in place of Yanes bodes well for the defense’s depth on the bench.
Next up for NYRBII is the first ever meeting with Memphis 901 at MSU Soccer Park, Friday the 29th of March.