U23s down Brooklyn Italians, advance to NPSL Northeast Regional Final

U23s down Brooklyn Italians, advance to NPSL Regional Championship

HARRISON NJ (July 18, 2014) – The New York Red Bulls U-23 team defeated the Brooklyn Italians on Wednesday night by a score of 4-3 in the NPSL Northeast Regional Semi-Finals. The Northeast Regional Final will be held at the Red Bull Training Facility this Saturday, July 19, at 7 p.m. The U-23s will host the Keystone Conference’s Greater Binghamton FC Thunder (GBFC Thunder), who advanced to the final by defeating D.C. United’s U-23 team, 1-0, on Wednesday night at Maryland SoccerPlex Stadium in Boyds, Md.

“We played Binghamton in last years playoffs and lost a tight 2-1 game, so we are looking forward to the opportunity to play them again. Many of the players in the squad played in the game last year so will be very motivated ahead of Saturday final. We hope we can create a good atmosphere at the Training Facility so encourage fans of the club to come out and support the team," said U-23s Head Coach Simon Nee.

The winner of Saturday’s regional final will advance to the NPSL National Semi-Finals, to be held on the weekend of July 26. The NPSL National Final will then be held the following weekend.

"We have a talented group of players that has performed consistently well over the course of the season. It has been a real squad effort as all players have contributed to the success of the group, sixteen different scorers this season in league play supports that.”

The Red Bulls U-23s finished the regular season undefeated with a 12-0-0 record and therefore, as the top seed, will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The U-23s finished the regular season with 54 goals scored and just four conceded. Their +50 goal differential was, by far, the highest in the NPSL.

Wednesday night’s 4-3 win over the Italians was the first time all season that the U-23s trailed an opponent. The Red Bulls’ Mike Innocenzi scored the game’s opener in the fourth minute with a great individual effort, cutting inside the penalty area and beating two Brooklyn defenders, before finishing for his sixth goal of the season. The Italians would score in the 26th and 28th minutes to take a 2-1 lead but the Red Bulls equalized just before the break. Sean Sheridan scored from the penalty spot after a Dan Bedoya free-kick was handled by a defender. Innocenzi scored his second of the match with his head following an excellent cross from Scott Thomsen in the 50th minute. Franklin Castellanos would score the eventual game-winner in the 75th minute in spectacular fashion by driving 35 yards towards goal, beating two Brooklyn defenders, and coolly chipping the ball over an advancing goalie.

"This was our third meeting with [the Italians] this season having played them twice in league play. Brooklyn is always a tough opponent and the game always has the feel of a local derby. This was the first time this season that we have had to come from behind in order to win so I was pleased with the reactions from the players in our second half performance."

The NPSL Regional Final kicks-off on Saturday, July 19, at 7 p.m. from the Red Bull Training Facility in Hanover, NJ. The match is open to the general public.