New York Red Bulls II look towards their second road win of the season against Atlanta United 2 on Friday.
The baby bulls were able to soundly defeat their rivals Bethlehem Steel last 4-0, with strong attacking and defensive play. Kyle Zajec scored twice. The backline of Edgardo Rito, Jordan Scarlett, Preston Kilwien and Rece Buckmaster held Bethlehem at bay.
Kilwien in particular caught the eye of manager John Wolyniec with his play over the past few weeks.
“He was a guy that we valued and brought into camp and knew that it would take a little bit of time to get going,” Wolyniec said. “Once he started getting playing time, he really adjusted well and is really starting to thrive. So, as much as we are shorthanded, he has really taken the opportunity and run with it in a good way. Anytime you are missing a guy that has been in the backline for a while, that is difficult to deal with. I think certain guys have stepped up and taken on more leadership roles, one of them being Preston.”
NYRB II lose Jordan Scarlett to yellow card accumulation this week and Sean Nealis is with the MLS team. Kilwien has to assume a leadership role in the coming weeks.
“It is definitely going to be different,” Kilwien said. ‘I am very excited for the challenge though. I did it in college, just trying to help your teammates. The next level it is going to be different, but I think it is going to be good for me. It is going to help me develop as a player and a person, so I’m excited.”
With players missing there’s also a strong possibility that some academy players play a lot of minutes on Friday. Two academy players in particular, Sal Esposito and Christopher Tiao saw time last week against Bethlehem. Esposito also saw time in the game against North Carolina FC as well.
“It has always been something that we have prided ourselves on.” Wolyniec said. “If I am honest, I probably have not done a great job this year so far, but now with the opportunity with some guys going down and more guys being involved in the first team, it is great to see guys participating and being involved. We are definitely going to have an academy influence in this game coming up on Friday against Atlanta. Hopefully, those guys are prepared, a lot of them have been training quite often, training today and moving forward.”
With NYRBII coming off a big win and required rotation this week, Wolyniec hopes his team continues to be aggressive.
“Yeah, it is always tricky to manage expectations and perceptions of games and the opponent,” Wolyniec said. “Hopefully, our style of play adds a little bit to that in the sense that we train hard and train intense, our style is aggressive in that sense. On the flip side of that, the way we play if, we just let down for a little bit, it can be damaging, and we suffer the consequences pretty quick.”
In addition to their strong play Wolyniec also stressed that his team must keep their focus. Especially against teams lower in the standings. Wolyniec wants the team to approach each game the same.
“We have seen that in the past last year, our record against the lower portion of the table is not very good,” Wolyniec said. “It is definitely a place that we lost points and over the last few years, if you look at our games this year, we tend to be vulnerable after we score goals and after we get leads, so there is a bit of an ability to stay focused. It is a job of the professional to take every game as it is and to go after it as an opportunity to get better and when you think of it that way, and then the opponent does not matter as much. Hopefully, that is the mentality we take this week.”
Photo by John Perdicaro