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MATCH PREVIEW: New York Red Bulls II vs. Rochester Rhinos

MATCH INFORMATION

  • New York Red Bulls II (42 points, fourth place) vs. Rochester Rhinos (55 points, first place)
  • Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015
  • Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester, NY
  • 7:05 p.m. ET (WATCH: Live stream available on NewYorkRedBulls.com/Live)
  • #ROCvNY – Follow on Twitter: @NYRBII

New York Red Bulls II face its final regular season match of the season on Saturday against the 2015 USL Regular Season Title winners, Rochester Rhinos. This is the third and final meeting between the clubs, and could be a potential playoff preview. Red Bulls II is 0-1-1 versus Rochester in 2015, while Rochester is undefeated at home this season (10-0-2). With a victory, New York will clinch home-field advantage in the first round of the USL Playoffs.

“It’s going to be competitive, it’s going to be hard, they’re going to look to battle and that’s a great way to get us prepared for a playoff game because that’s what the playoffs are going to be like,” NYRB II Head Coach John Wolyniec said. “The intensity, the physicality, all that is going to be ticked up a couple notches so playing in Rochester’s a great place to get a taste of that right before the playoffs start.”

Red Bulls II is coming off of a loss last week against FC Montreal, 2-0. Despite dominating most of the match, New York was unable find its finishing touch and was held scoreless. It was the team’s first loss since Aug. 8, ending a four-match unbeaten streak which included three consecutive wins.

Marius Obekop nearly put himself on the scoresheet last week on a free kick from just outside of the Montreal penalty box. The forward’s left-footed shot struck the wrong side of the crossbar and bounced out, inches from putting NYRB II ahead. Obekop has recorded 12 points (5 G’s, 2 A’s) this season, which is second on the team, and will need to be in top form against the USL’s best defense.

Stefano Bonomo has been the forward in best form lately, tallying all of his two goals and two assists this season in the last five matches. Since joining the team on July 29, he has been alternating with team-points leader Chris Tsonis (5 G’s, 3 A’s) at center forward. No matter who will be starting as the team’s number nine, effectively implementing the high press, keeping the ball, and playing quick and accurate passes is essential to breaking down Rochester’s back line.

The midfield, led by Leo Stolz, will need to do its best to keep the ball and allow Rochester as little space as possible when off the ball. New York has been impressive lately against the conference’s top teams, boasting a 2-0-0 record against Louisville City FC and recording a draw versus Charleston Battery since New York’s last match against Rochester. If Red Bulls II can implement its style of play against Rochester, NYRB II will have a chance to hand the Rhinos their second loss of the season.

The Rochester Rhinos, regardless of the result, will finish in first place of the Eastern Conference. The club has clinched a first-round bye and the USL Regular Season Title with little more to play for than continuing its positive momentum into the playoffs. The team’s stellar defense has allowed a league-low 13 goals in 26 matches, and only three goals at home all season.

The Rhinos are led on offense by Christian Volesky and Steevan Dos Santos, who have both scored eight goals this season. Alex Dixon and Jonny Mendoza both scored against NYRB II in the club’s lone victory against New York this season, but the biggest obstacle will be to score against last season’s Defensive Player of the Year Tony Walls and the stout Rochester defense. NYRB II has faced Rochester goalkeepers Brandon Miller and Adam Grinwis, but has been unable to score against either. If Red Bulls II can score against Rochester, a team whose only weakness this season has been scoring goals, New York will have a shot at ending Rochester’s undefeated home record.

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