New York Red Bulls II earned a hard-fought point against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on April 23. Jeremy Rafanello scored his second goal in three matches and AJ Marcucci recorded six saves.

With three of the next four matches for New York away from home, the result against the defending Eastern Conference champions can serve as a building block for the challenges that are ahead.

“I feel like it’s a stepping stone,” Rafanello said. “Tampa is a championship squad, and we don’t back down from anybody.”

Red Bulls II came up with multiple defensive plays throughout the match, including a few key saves by Marcucci. The match marked the second-consecutive meeting in which New York held the potent Tampa Bay attack to just one goal.

“It’s good that we got a point,” Rafanello said. “That was definitely a step in the right direction where we can build. It’s still so early in the season, so we have a lot to build off for sure. A lot of guys are getting experience.”

The Rowdies marked the fifth team that Red Bulls II faced in its first seven matches that qualified for the 2021 postseason. During that stretch, a lot of New York players either made their professional debuts or saw a jump in their role from 2021, gaining key experience against playoff sides.

Detroit City FC, the club’s next opponent, is one of two USL Championship newcomers this season. They currently reside third in the Eastern Conference table with four wins in seven matches.

In a tough road environment at Keyworth Stadium, New York has a chance to build off its strong performance against Tampa Bay.

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