MONTCLAIR, N.J. (October 2, 2023) - New York Red Bulls II (#4 Seed) move on in the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs after defeating Chicago Fire FC II (#6 Seed) 4-1, at MSU Soccer Park.
New York Red Bulls II entered yesterday’s match looking to bounce back from a disappointing 3-1 loss against Philadelphia in the regular season finale. However, the club had secured the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and were set for a home playoff match against the six seed, Chicago Fire FC II.
Right as the opening whistle was blown, New York took control of the match. A large portion of the first half was played in the attacking third for Red Bulls II, and the score line at halftime was proof of that.
It only took until the thirteenth minute of the match for the home side to get on the board, when Wiki Carmona stepped up to take a corner kick. The Venezuelan midfielder whipped a perfect ball in to Frank Ssebufu, who connected on the cross with his head to put New York up 1-0 early. The goal was Ssebufu’s first of the playoffs and his ninth of the 2023 season.
Red Bulls II did not get comfortable with their one goal lead and were looking for more in a dominant first half on the attacking side of the ball. This time, midfielder Ibrahim Kasule threaded a through ball to captain O’Vonte Mullings, who bodied the lone Chicago defender on the breakaway and neatly finished the ball past the goalkeeper.
That would not be all for New York Red Bulls II in the first half, as the club continued their pressure in the attacking zone. After already recording an assist in the match, Ibrahim Kasule was ready to add to his incredible 2023 campaign. The Ugandan found himself right in front of the Chicago goal and sent in multiple shots that eventually made it through the goalkeeper for his first goal of the playoffs and his sixteenth of the year.
Now up 3-0 at halftime, New York needed to close the match strong in their hopes to advance to the conference semifinal.
Chicago began the half strong and drew a foul right on the edge of the eighteen-yard box. Midfielder Luka Prpa stepped up and buried the free kick to try and help his team claw back from a three-goal deficit. The visitors attempted a comeback, but that set piece goal would be their only one of the match thanks to the Red Bulls II defensive line stepping up.
New York sealed their victory in stoppage time, when Kasule found himself on the scoresheet yet again. The Ugandan, in very similar fashion to his first goal, hammered home his own rebound to secure his brace and send Red Bulls II to the next round of the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs.
The victory marked New York’s first playoff victory in MLS NEXT Pro, eighth in club history, and first since 2018. Red Bulls II are undefeated at home in postseason play in club history with a record of 4-0-2.
New York awaits their opponent in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, date and time TBA. Coverage will be on MLS Season Pass with Apple TV.