Despite trailing when they went into halftime, New York Red Bulls II were able to put together a solid second half and defeat Indy Eleven on Sunday. Below are some thoughts from the game at MSU Soccer Park.
Strong Second Half
The second half has been one of NYRB II’s strengths in their six games to start the year. NYRBII scored 16 goals this season, and 10 in the 2nd half. NYRB II manager John Wolyniec talked about the trend of strong second halves after the game.
“That seems to be our thing,” Woylniec said. “Listen, we got guys that come work hard that they know that whether we’re up or down that there’s always something to play for. We came out pretty good, and unfortunately take a goal against the run a play. We were able to stay composed and get after it and kind of wore them down. It just took to the second half for us to break through and I think at that point we knew there’s a good chance that we’re going to get a couple more chances.”
A lot of the chances NYRB II created in the first half came outside of the box, with the two big chances coming from Marcus Epps who missed just wide and Jared Stroud who was denied by a good save from Indy Eleven keeper Evan Newton.
Wolyniec said although the team may have felt hard done by some things that didn’t go their way in the first half, his players were ready to get back at it,
“I didn’t have to say much,” Woylniec said. “A couple little tiny tactical things that that we needed to adjust. ” Credit to them, our guys stayed level headed. Sometimes in those scenarios you can get a little frustrated and we showed some signs of that but for the most part we were pretty resolute about going after the game and continue to go after it no matter what.”
NYRBII responded and made the most of their chances in the second half, but two guys in particular helped lead the charge.
The Bez and Barlow show
For NYRB II and Wolyniec there’s been quite a bit of rotation early on in the season with first teamers coming into the team some weeks. Some like Vincent Bezecourt who was wearing the captain’s armband on Sunday, have made big impacts.
Bezecourt worked well with the rest of the midfield to create chances for his teammates and helped set up up two of the goals on Sunday. First the midfielder was able to draw a penalty after a pass from Tom Barlow and then 9 minutes later played the forward in for his goal to give NYRB II the lead. Bezecourt finished the game with an assist, 6 chances created, and 73% of his passes completed.
Barlow continues getting into great positions and reaping rewards for his hard work. His goal Sunday brought his season total to seven. The goal contained similarities to the chance he missed last weekend against Loudoun United, but this time the forward was able to put it away to give NYRB II the lead.
“Vince (Bezecourt) played a nice ball and, I had a little bit of time,” Barlow said. “I don’t think it was as much time as I did against Loudoun to think about it. So, it made it a little easier and I’m glad it went in and we got the win.”
Bezecourt and Barlow helped the team grab the lead, but there were other performances that shouldn’t go unnoticed in the game either.
The midfield and backline stand strong
After giving up 3 goals to at home last weekend to Loudoun, there was some uncertainty if NYRB II could hold off an impressive counter attacking team like Indy. Early on when Dane Kelly grabbed the first goal of the game against the run of play, NYRB II’s defense could’ve made similar mistakes as they did the previous week, but instead they rebounded well.
Despite being beaten by Kelly on the first goal, Jordan Scarlett worked well with Sean Nealis in the central of defense. They were able to keep the front three of Kelly, Thomas Enevoldsen and Tyler Pasher relatively quiet for most of the game. Nealis had what looked like to be his best game for the team so far as he was able to put in good challenges and be on top of Enevoldsen for most of the game.
Rece Buckmaster and Kyle Duncan also helped out defensively with their recoveries and distribution out of the back. Both outside backs were able to get forward and do a nice job helping out as well. Buckmaster completed a team high 84% of his passes on the day. NYRB II forward Marcus Epps was full of praise for how the defense handled the counter-attacking threat Indy presented.
“The back line did excellent,” Epps said. “We knew that Indy is very good on the counter, and the guys up top are very dangerous. So, that was a tactic going in. The back line did excellent making sure that we put out the fires before they started and we’re shifting and rotating. So, it was a good night for the back line and everyone involved in defensive and Evan as well.”
In addition to the backline the midfield pairing of Chris Lema and Jean-Christophe Koffi had their best game together. Aside from their counter attack, Indy’s midfield had been one of their best areas of the team and when the visitors had been able to control the midfield they won their games.
However, on Sunday Koffi and Lema were able to connect with their attacking players and keep possession of the ball for the majority of the game. Each of them created three chances with Lema chipping in more on the defensive side of things with some nice tackles to win the ball back. It may have taken a few games for the two of them to get their chemistry down, but now it looks like they continue to get better with each game.