The last couple of weeks haven’t gone New York Red Bulls II’s way as they are winless in their last three games. They will look to change that on Friday against Bethlehem Steel FC.
Despite a strong second half showing against North Carolina last week, NYRB II were unable to earn a favorable result. The baby bulls have struggled to break down teams (2 goals in their last three matches) since the promotion of forward Tom Barlow to the first team.
In addition to Barlow’s promotion there have been other rotations to the team taking place between the first and reserve team. Sean Nealis saw more time with the first team with Aaron Long’s injury and Tim Parker’s suspension, which has led to more playing time for Preston Kilwein. Allen Yanes’ return from injury has also seen the defender earn some minutes as well. Along with some academy players the squad rotated significantly in recent weeks.
Despite the struggles Jared Stroud has been one of the bright spots for the team, the midfielder has played a big part in the attacking third for the team over the past few games. NYRB II manager John Wolyniec was full of praise for Stroud’s play of late.
“I think Jared got off to a little bit of a slow start (this season),” Wolyniec said. “But he has really continued to push himself forward and kind of like last year. It was a little bit slow for him to get in and then once the season started, he was making plays left and right. He continues to be dangerous and help us in a lot of ways and the effort is really high. He is a difficult player to deal with, so if he just gets a little bit cleaner than he is going to make it.”
Stroud will look to help NYRB II return to their goal scoring ways against a Bethlehem backline that has been leaking goals.
“I will go about it as I do every game,” Stroud said. “Try to be a threat on offense, and then work hard on defense. I feel like that is the most important thing for me is being a two way player and I am going to go out there and try to create chances and try to score goals. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we win and come away with a good result. “
Bethlehem has given NYRB II trouble over the years because of their dangerous ability on the counter. Outside of their 2016 USL Championship season, NYRB II has only managed one win in the last 5 games against the Steel.
Bethlehem has been in good form on the road this year to start the season (2-1-1 record), but will be without Faris Moumbagna and Benjamin Ofeimu who were both red carded in Bethlehem’s last match. Despite this, Wolyniec knows how tough of an opposition Bethlehem is and that his team will be in for a fight.
“They were tough to play against (when) we played them in preseason,” Wolyniec said. “They are similar to us in some ways, they bring a physicality to the game, they push the tempo of the game and play pretty direct. It is going to be two punchers out there. They’ve had a little bit of trouble for the last couple (of games). We have watched those games and they are right in it and they keep fighting. It does not matter if they are up or down, whatever, they bring an edge to the game. So, we are going to have to be prepared, we are going to be in for a tough fight.”
Photo by John Perdicaro