New York Red Bulls II were able to advance to the semifinals for the third straight week in the USL eCup with a 4-1 win over Hartford Athletic on Wednesday.
Mike LaBelle returned to be NYRB II’s designated player this week after leading them to a 1st place finish in week 2. LaBelle once again played with NYRB II’s designated international team Chile. He was matched up against Hartford Athletic’s Kamer Nujiu and their designated team Scotland.
LaBelle tried to break down Nujiu’s compact defense early on and had a chance with Alexis Sanchez in the 13th minute but his shot was saved.
Labelle’s constant pressure would pay off as he took the lead in the 22nd minute with Sanchez after the forward’s initial shot was blocked, he fired home the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
LaBelle would try to add onto the lead in the first half but Nujiu’s defense stood firm and NYRB II went into the half with a 1-0 lead.
LaBelle wouldn’t have to wait long in the second half to double NYRB II’s advantage. Just 9 minutes in he scored with Fabián Orellana after creating some space with a nice drag back to put NYRB II up 2-0.
LaBelle continued to pile on the pressure and added a third in the 63rd minute after a nice passing move was finished off by Eduardo Vargas to put NYRB II up 3-0.
The fourth goal would be added in style after LaBelle won a free kick and stepped up with Sanchez and shot off the underside of the crossbar and in to give NYRB II a 4-0 lead.
Nujiu would grab a consolation goal for Hartford after a nice through ball found Oliver Burke in space and Nujiu was able to convert the effort at the near post. However, NYRB II would claim the victory by a score of 4-1.
With their win NYRB II will face Union Omaha after their upset of Saint Louis FC on Wednesday. The matchup will take place on Thursday at 9 PM.