HANOVER, N.J. (May 27, 2016) – As New York Red Bulls II approaches their tenth game of the year, marking the completion of one-third of the USL regular season, the second-year side stands in second place of the Eastern Conference with a 5-1-3 record. By this time last season, Red Bulls II, who finished in fourth place of the Eastern Conference, was 2-4-3.
After claiming the club’s fifth victory of the season last weekend against FC Montreal, NYRB II head coach John Wolyniec attributes most of his team’s success to an improved defense.
“Some of it’s personnel, we’ve upgraded in that area, that’s part of it,” Wolyniec said. “There’s been a focus on making sure defensively that we’re solid and taking care of everything. We feel like if we keep the score at zero, it helps us with our tactics and it helps for us to be successful and a lot of it has just been good performances from guys to be honest.”
Amongst the players putting in the good defensive performances have been goalkeepers Ryan Meara and Rafael Diaz, who have combined for five clean sheets this season.
“I have to speak about Ryan Meara, he’s been great back there for us and then when Rafi [Diaz] needs to step on he’s been good too so the combination of good performances from defenders and goalkeepers is always going to end up in a lot of zeros.”
The head coach also spoke about Junior Flemmings, who leads USL in assists, and Konrad Plewa, who was named to the USL Team of the Week and combined with Flemmings for the game-winning goal in Montreal.
“The surprising thing with Junior is just how many effective plays he makes, it’s a lot,” Wolyniec observed. “When he makes a play, it almost always ends up in an assist or a goal. You have to give him a lot of credit, we’ve moved him around positionaly and he’s handled it well and he always seems to be in the right spot and make a play that helps us win a game so I give him a lot of credit.
“Konrad’s a guy that I’ve known for a while...this year we’ve been pretty strong at center back and we’ve kind of moved him to right back and he’s handled it very well. He just has tools that present themselves well for a bunch of different positions.
“He’s an intelligent player, he’s good tactically, he’s good technically, he’s good on the ball and we have a bit of a need at right back and that’s what he’s filled in for us and he’s done very well with it.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds are a changed side from the one New York last faced on May 7. Leading goal scorer Romeo Parkes is no longer with the club and has been suspended for the remainder of the season. Additionally, the team will be operated for the first time by new head coach, Dave Brandt.
Brandt, a four-time NSCAA Coach of the Year at Navy and former winningest active coach in Division I men’s soccer before taking the job with the Riverhounds is set to manage his first game at the helm.
However, the Red Bulls II head coach acknowledges that Pittsburgh, fresh off their first win of the season, will bring some extra energy under new leadership and will need his side to match the intensity of their re-focused opposition for success on Saturday.
“It’s tricky...with the coaching change, it’s a bit of an unknown.” Wolyniec noted. “They’re a team that’s had some struggles and we got the better of them at their place, but they’re going to be coming here with a lot of high energy and really looking to get after the game with the change in their staff and the fact that they won their last game, I’m sure they’re feeling a lot better about themselves.
“They’re going to come here and throw everything they have at us and we’re just going to have to be smart, continue to be good defensively, continue to work and work hard through transition moments.”
New York Red Bulls II is back in action on Saturday, May 28, as part of a Red Bull Arena double header (WATCH: NewYorkRedBulls.com/Live). NYRB II faces the Riverhounds at 10 p.m., after the New York Red Bulls face Toronto FC in MLS action at 7 p.m.
Admission to the Red Bulls II match is available to fans with tickets to the MLS match.
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