New York Red Bulls II await the final match of the USL season next weekend with everything still to play for in the Eastern Conference. After a midweek loss on the road to FC Montreal, Red Bulls II has not yet clinched a spot in the playoffs and will have to watch and wait results this weekend as the team’s playoff scenario becomes clearer.
New York Red Bulls II take on the first-place Rochester Rhinos in the final match of NYRB II’s inaugural season on Saturday, Sept. 19 in Rochester, N.Y., at 7:05 p.m. ET (WATCH: Live stream available on NewYorkRedBulls.com/Live).
New York Red Bulls II saw its four-match unbeaten streak snapped at Stade Saputo by FC Montreal, 2-0. Alessandro Riggi’s brace proved to be the difference on a night where New York seemed like the better team on the pitch, but FC Montreal was better on the scoresheet.
New York began the match pressing high and creating dangerous possessions in the final third. The chances were there, but the finishing was not as six shots in the first half were all turned away by the goalkeeper or flew just wide. Marius Obekop nearly found the back of the net on a free kick, but his shot struck the wrong side of the post and bounced out. In the second half, Bolu Akinyode headed a ball off the crossbar on a night that NYRB II was shut out.
In the 80th minute FC Montreal punished New York on the counterattack. Louis Beland-Goyette played in Riggi, who took one touch and finished cleanly with his left-foot. Riggi struck again just seconds after the clock struck 90 minutes when Charles Joly sent in an almost identical cross to the first goal, and Riggi buried it on the volley to put the match out of reach.
Next up for New York Red Bulls II is the Rochester Rhinos, who already clinched the USL Regular Season Title and a first-round bye. This will be the third and final matchup of the regular season between the clubs. The teams first played in NYRB II’s inaugural match, a scoreless draw at Red Bull Arena. In the sides’ second outing on April 26, Rochester claimed victory at home, 2-0.
Rochester boasts the best defense in the USL, allowing only 12 goals in 25 matches this season. With only one loss in 2015, the Rhinos are a difficult team to beat, but like any team, the Rhinos have their weaknesses. Rochester has scored 34 goals this season, which is eighth in the Eastern Conference. If NYRB II can effectively press, break down the defense and finish its chances, New York can find victory in Rochester where the Rhinos are undefeated this season (10-0-2).
Bolu Akinyode USL Team of the Week
Midfielder and Red Bulls Academy product Bolu Akinyode was named to the USL Team of the Week for his performance against Louisville City FC. New York Red Bulls II came back twice to win its final home match of the regular season against Louisville, with Akinyode scoring the game-winning goal in the 86th minute, 3-2. The late winner was Akinyode’s first professional goal in a complete 90 minute performance. Akinyode has played 20 matches for Red Bulls II this season, including 10 starts. He has one goal and one assist in 1,109 minutes played in his rookie season.
Only one match remains in New York Red Bulls II’s inaugural regular season and all to play for as it stands. New York remains in third place after the loss to FC Montreal, but could be bumped to as low as fifth place if Charleston Battery (vs. Louisville City FC 9/12) and Charlotte Independence (at Saint Louis FC 9/12) win this weekend. The teams below the red line to watch are Pittsburgh Riverhounds (at Wilmington 9/12) and Harrisburg City Islanders (at Richmond Kickers 9/12), the two teams who are currently outside of the playoff picture, but preventing NYRB II from clinching a playoff spot.
The playoff format for USL is similar to MLS, where the top two teams in each conference receive a first-round bye, while the third place team hosts the sixth place team, and the fourth place team hosts the fifth place team. All playoff matches are a single leg with the winner advancing to the next round.