Whenever teams at the top of the table square off, you are usually set to have a good game. New York Red Bulls II versus the Tampa Bay Rowdies did not disappoint. It had a bit of everything, with new formations, red cards, goals, and a win for the home team
Wolyniec trust in youth is how it works here
With Jean-Christophe Koffi suspended due to yellow card accumulation, and Kyle Zajec out 2 weeks with a broken nose, head coach John Wolyniec turned to two young academy players to fill the hole at central defensive midfield. First, it was John Tolkin, who continued his hot streak with a beautiful assist on Mathias Jorgenson second goal. Then, after a Kyle Duncan red card, it was Bryce Lebel on at defensive midfield and Tolkin to left back.
On Tolkin, Wolyniec said his performance was “another step forward. For him to play two positions, at his age, at this level, against that team, that’s a credit to him”
Lebel, who has been in and out of training, a struggle Wolyniec faces in integrating youth, didn’t have it easy. “It was fast for him and all that,” said Wolyniec after the match. “That’s a tough, hard game for kids to step into”. Despite that Lebel hung tough and despite limited training with the team, he goes on vacation this week, earned his chance.
“He trained really well and it kind of made my decision easy. We needed something and he provided in a good way, so he gets an opportunity, and that is how we work here”
Jorgenson continues to grow
Despite the price tag, and the expectations that come with it, it’s important to remember how young Mathias Jørgenson is. He is only 18, and everyone reading this should think about if they could move to a new country, start a job with limited experience in the position, and succeed right away.
That is the task Jørgenson faced, and the start of his life in America could not have been easy. However, with 8 goals in12 matches in USL, including 2 against the Rowdies, it is clear Jørgenson is starting to get comfortable here. Jørgensen agreed following the win.
“More and more I get comfortable but it’s still difficult because I think sometimes, we play with one striker, sometimes with two strikers, and I’m coming form a system in Denmark when I only play with two strikers”
Despite the struggles early on, Jørgenson looks more confident, and is eager to continue to improve. After the match, Wolyniec said, “He’s a prideful kid. Works hard. You know, I think he’s a high talent with a lot of potential.”
Red Bull show team spirit
Up two goals at the half, you couldn’t fault anyone for thinking about what happened 6 days earlier against Memphis 901 FC. It was on John Wolyniec mind, but he was not going to mention it to his team.
“I mean, obviously going into half 2-0, you’re thinking, you know, a little bit of the Memphis loss, but I didn’t want to mention it,” admitted Wolyniec after the match. “So I thought our guys came out in the second half and did really well to start you know, put Tampa on their heels. Obviously, they get the wind of the backs with us going down a man, but to keep the zero even though you know, a couple of scary moments there. I hope and I think that our guys will gain some confidence from that for sure. You know, they got some good players and they challenge it hard. And they came out of some good able to, you know, minimal minimalize it, minimize it, and decent way and we should gain amount of confidence.”
The team fought for every ball and relied on Evan Louro to make the big save when needed.
“My teammates know that I have their back just like they have mine,” said Louro. “If I mess up, I know that they’re going to cover me. So, all I have to do is cover them.”
It is that “all for one, one for all” mentality that allowed them to hold on to the lead, despite the difficult circumstances.
Photo by John Perdicaro