By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 26, 2015
In what has been a banner season for the Red Bulls organization, with the club’s MLS side winning the Supporters Shield and currently competing in the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the PDL side reaching the 2015 PDL Championship Game, the Red Bulls II’s first USL season was also a strong success.
The club was the lone MLS owned-and-operated side in the Eastern Conference to reach the playoffs, and got outstanding performances from both players on loan from MLS such as Leo Stolz, Santiago Castano and Manolo Sanchez, and signings Speedy Williams, Stefano Bonomo and Konrad Plewa. The platform is now set for a solid follow-up in 2016.
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2015 USL Season in Review:
Place: 4th in the Eastern Conference
Goals For: 46
Goals Against: 45
2015 leaders: Marius Obekop (6 goals), Dan Bedoya (4 assists), Santiago Castano (83 saves, 5 shutouts)
Greatest moment of 2015: The first playoff game in Red Bulls II history was certainly a memorable one, as the side rallied both in regulation and overtime before taking a 4-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Red Bull Arena. Set pieces played a key role in the contest, as Pittsburgh twice took the lead from corner kicks both in the first half and the first period of overtime. NYRB II hit back through a well-worked goal by Manolo Sanchez off Leo Stolz’s pass just past the hour-mark to leave the teams even after 90 minutes, and then used a pair of goals by Karl Ouimette in either half of overtime to take the lead as their pressure finally paid off. Dan Bedoya put a final exclamation point on the win with a minute to go as the Red Bulls II claimed an excellent victory.
Lowest moment of 2015: The Red Bulls II didn’t have many games where little seemed to go right, but a 4-2 defeat on the road to Wilmington Hammerheads FC was one of those times. New York actually outshot its hosts, but fell behind 3-1 at the break as it was caught flat by a pair of goals from Stefan Defregger and Qudus Lawal. Brian Ackley added a fourth for Wilmington from the penalty spot, and while Chris Tsonis scored with nine minutes to go, it proved little more than a consolation as Wilmington goalkeeper Andre Rawls put in a strong six-save performance.
What went right? The Red Bulls II grew throughout their inaugural season, and really hit their stride midway through June. The side took nine victories in 14 games to move into the playoff positions, and saw numerous parts slide seamlessly in and out of the lineup as it did so. Ten players recorded at least three goals, while five recorded at least three assists, as John Wolyniec’s side played entertaining soccer for much of the season.
What went wrong? If there was one criticism to level at the side, it was the number of shots the Red Bulls II allowed on target throughout the season. Opponents recorded 154 shots on goal in 28 games, an average of 5.5 per game. That in turn left the side with the worst defensive record of teams that reached the playoffs, something Wolyniec will want to improve in 2016.He said it: “We’ve been fortunate to have an academy that has kept producing players and developing players for a number of years at a high level, and now we’re starting to see the depth of that production. Maybe we haven’t been able to put all of those guys in the first team, into the MLS team, but now the guys who aren’t quite ready for that are still good players, and are still able to contribute.” – John Wolyniec, New York Red Bulls II Head Coach