The Oceean City Nor’easters were probably thinking they were heading back down the Jersey Shore with all three points, having a two-goal lead on New York Red Bull U-23.
But the u23’s did not disappoint their home fans, playing their first game at the Red Bull Training Facility in three weeks.
Captain Brian Saramago leveled the match heading into the break and the NYRB u23s held on to earn a point 2-2.
After three straight games opening the scoring in the first half, it was NYRB u23 who had to pick the ball out of their net first.
Nor’easters winger, Kwesi Allen, hit a left-footed rocket into the top left corner 20 yards out from goal before doubling their lead by the 16th minute with a header off a corner kick.
“The group was very passive in the way we defended,” said coach Simon Nee after the match. “We needed to be on the front foot more, much more aggressive, much more proactive. It wasn’t too much like a Red Bull performance in the first half”
The u23’s responded right away, cutting the deficit in half with a goal from their leading scorer Jonathan Filipe after JP Marin sent in a cross after beating his defender.
The visitors had an opportunity to regain their two-goal advantage with a penalty kick five minutes before the break. But Red Bulls goalkeeper Marcelin Gohier did well to read the play and block the shot with a diving save.
“We gave him kudos in the changing room at the end because it’s a pivotal moment in the game at 2-1,” said Nee on Gohier’s clutch save to keep his team in the match. “We have a lot of confidence in (Marcelin) and not just the penalty save, but he was on top of a lot of little plays in the game. In these tight games, you need your goalkeeper to come up and make big plays in the game and he did that today”.
In the last play of the first half, Vince Borden played the ball over the defense where Filipe was in line with the last defender. As he squared the ball into the box, Saramago ran in and shot the ball past the goalkeeper to tie the game two-all.
“I’ll give the group a lot of credit. In the first half where we didn’t perhaps play our best game of the season,” said Nee. “We still found ways to be dangerous in attack and get behind the opponent. We score two good goals against the run of the game and that’s the mark of a group that has a lot of character to find a way when things are perhaps not going the way we anticipated and stay in the game and keep the game close”
Man of the Match
Not only did the captain rescue a point for this side, but Saramago was very active in the second half, dropping deeper into the midfield with the team looking to play through him and find that winning goal.
The Nor’easters do not have to wait long for a rematch as they’ll host the NYRB u23 on Saturday, June 22 at 7:00 PM EST.
NYRB u23 then play another two road matches, then return to RBTF on Tuesday, July 2 to play the Long Island Rough Riders.