A goal can change a game
This may seem like an obvious statement. Of course a goal changes a game. One team goes into the lead or ties it. However, as we seen with the first team a goal can sometimes help the opponent. This was the case for New York Red Bull II. The opening goal for Nashville SC sparked a turn around. Nashville was dominating the game when they scored in the 10th minute, and NYRBII struggled to get any possession.
After the goal, every 10 minute period was better. It ultimately culminated with Jared Stroud’s goal in the 43rd minute. The goal acted as a wake up call for the team, and what spurred them on to grab a foothold, and ultimately control of the match by the end of the first half.
Fullbacks stand out
Against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the fullback play came up a bit short. Kyle Duncan got caught up field on the second goal, and Janos Loebe was underwhelming. A week later against NSC, it was much better. Kyle Duncan and John Tolkin put in strong 90 minute shifts.
Duncan had one of his best games this season. He positioned himself well defensively, and found the right moments to get forward to join the attack. When he did, he provided good service, and kept it simple, which helped avoid needless turnovers. His good play was rewarded with an assist on the opener, and a first professional goal. It was encouraging game from Duncan, and hopefully a sign that he is rounding into form as he gets consistent minutes.
Academy product John Tolkin started at left back, and once again showed that he belonged at this level. His technical ability and calmness on the ball was on full display. While the final ball could have bit better, it was a very good performance in that facet of the game.
However, what was most encouraging was his defensive play. Going up against a good speedy winger in Alan Winn, he kept the service to the minimum. I only remember Winn beating him once. When he did, Tolkin effectively took away the cut back cross using the endline as an extra defender and forcing a ball that will always be an easy save for Evan Louro.
Returns to the lineup and closing out matches
Last night’s game saw the return of Ben Mines to the starting 11, Kyle Zajec to the field, and Sean McSherry to the 18. It was good to see all three back in those roles. Mines grew as the game went on, looking as if his confidence and form was returning. Hopefully, he can remain injury free and really start to get consistent minutes, and kickstart his development again.
With the win over NSC, NYRBII moved to 13-0-1 when leading after the 75th minute. One of the reasons the team sits alone at the top of the Eastern conference is because they have been so good at closing out matches this season. It is an impressive stat and one that makes a huge difference as the pressure ramps up in the playoff.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography