Q: The roster is still forming day-to-day within preseason, but what do you see out of some prospective NYRB II players you’ll have this upcoming season including some academy kids who may be able to make the jump to USL this season?
John Wolyniec: “It’s early in the process, as far as identifying some of the guys on the USL side as well as some decisions to be made at the first team level so that always affects our personnel, but we definitely see a couple guys that have some talent and that are buying into the tactics. We’ve got some preseason games lined up as well and then the academy guys look good, we’ve got four guys with us in camp, a couple other guys with the U-18’s, U-16’s that we still feel like can be involved and hoping that this opportunity here can get them up to speed so that when we’re playing USL games we can slide them right in and have no problems.”
Q: How tough do you see the path to having a successful USL season (USL Shield + Cup) repeat?
JW: “Yeah, it’s always hard the season after you have a lot of success. You’re going to have a target on your back. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but also with that success we’ve moved some guys on which is great so a lot of times it depends who’s with us. We’re ready for it, we want that, we want all the games to be hard, we want the other teams to give us their best, so I think it’s going to be a good year for us.”
Q: NYRB II used 50 players in all last USL season, how difficult is it to manage a consistently evolving roster?
JW: “It’s certainly tricky, it’s not always easy, but we’re used to it. We’ve done it for two years now, this will be our third. We’ll continue to do it this year, I’m not sure we’ll reach player totals we have in the past but I’m sure it’ll be close. Of course some of that is due to the change over the U-18’s who graduated out of high school [and] going to college over the summer, so we have to bring in a new group midway through the year, which is not ideal for us. But you know I’ve always said when our style of play is clear, it certainly helps because the 18’s are used to playing our style. [When] they come in there are some tactical differences, but at the same time, it doesn’t take a ton to get them up to speed and then the mixing of the USL and first team guys is tricky as well, but again, we train at the same facility, I spend a lot of time at the first team sessions and we try and be as consistent as possible so that our players know their responsibilities and make sure they go out there and perform.”
Q: Montclair State will provide an intimate environment this year as opposed to playing at Red Bull Arena. What advantages can you take from a setting that Red Bulls prospects can call home?
JW: “We’re hoping that, as great as playing at Red Bull Arena is, it’s not always easy when it’s empty. Playing at Montclair [State], getting some fans there and creating an atmosphere there is important. That atmosphere can affect the way the game is played. We’re hoping that there’s a good atmosphere and environment that promotes our players to put a lot into the games and for them to realize that there’s a bunch a people watching us, so we better play hard.”
Q: With US Soccer provisionally granting USL D2 status, it seems the league has grown stronger by adding a couple teams, on top of adding more quality through signings. How do you combat that this year, no matter the Starting XI that takes the pitch?
JW: “Again, any time the quality of the game goes up, we’re happy and excited about it. It’ll only help us to develop players – which is our main goal. I think USL has done a very good job putting a quality product on the field and our experience over the last few years is that it certainly can get better, but there are a lot of good games we get to play in that our guys are challenged on a weekly basis. I think the fact that in the offseason the USL was moved up to provisional D2 status shows that they’ve come a long way and there’s a lot of good around the league and there’s a lot of good teams around the league so hopefully that continues and I think it will.”
Q: How gratifying is it to see some of your players that you’ve helped develop since the inception of NYRB II make the jump to the first team and fight for minutes?
JW: “It’s great. I’m proud of them, it’s a credit to them. Guys like Aaron Long and other guys who have worked really hard to see them step up on the field in a relatively short period of time with the first team is great. We’re real excited as a staff and as a team, and as a club in general, young guys are coming along and making strides. It certainly makes things hard for Jesse [Marsch] to make decisions which is what he wants so like I said it’s a credit to those guys.”