When NYRB II face off against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night, some familiar faces will be seen on the opposing side, as the Rowdies roster includes three former NYRB II players who were a part of the USL Cup Championship won in 2016.
Reigning USL Player of the Week Junior Flemmings, Stefano Bonomo, who was the leading goalscorer in 2017 for the II side and David Najem, who’s currently out with a torn ACL sustained at Red Bull Arena in April, all were vital contributors in that title-winning season.
Flemmings and Bonomo both possess attacking qualities that will look to trouble a NYRB II side that has yet to record a road victory in 2018, but can find solace in having won their previous match at Al Lang Stadium in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs.
NYRB II head coach John Wolyniec can see how knowing their tendencies after their years with the club as a slight advantage come Saturday, but is also weary of motivation being their primary motive as well.
“Maybe a little bit, but obviously on the flip side you have motivation for them,” Wolyniec said. “I’m sure they’re going to be revved up and ready to go, and going to want to prove themselves to Red Bull."
Not lost on the minds of the Rowdies will be their season-ending loss to NYRB II in 2017, as well as the 5-0 loss they suffered at Red Bull Arena in April.
“I think there’s enough of a story around playing against Tampa between some of the games we’ve had and the playoffs last year," Wolyniec said. "There’s plenty around the game, which is good, and it’ll be good to see those guys and compete against them.”
Goalkeeper Evan Louro deemed it a business trip, no matter who stands on the opposite side.
“Yeah, there’s some familiarity there, but you know as great friends they were when they were here, when the whistle blows, it’s all business,” Louro said. “So I think they’re in the same mindset as me…”
Post-match though, friendships can be restored.
“You know after the game, we’ll all hang out and stuff like that, but when it comes down to the game, we’re not really worried about that,” Louro said.