Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls II
HARRISON, N.J. – The USL Regular Season champion New York Red Bulls II plays host to the No. 4 seed Rochester Rhinos in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs on Friday night at Red Bull Arena, with the two teams set to renew acquaintances at the same stage that they met in last season’s postseason. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
New York Red Bulls II news and notes
2016 USL Cup Playoffs So Far
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: W 4-0 vs. Orlando City B
The Red Bulls II extended their undefeated streak to 11 games in their victory against Orlando on Sunday as Aaron Long scored twice to lead the side to victory in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Vincent Bezecourt also had a goal and assist in the win against Orlando, continuing his strong recent run of form. The former St. Francis University standout has five goals and two assists in his past five games.
The Red Bulls II have won five consecutive games at Red Bull Arena, after having struggled on home turf earlier this season. Prior to the current streak, the side had gone only 4-2-4 in the regular season at home.
Red Bulls II goalkeeper Ryan Meara recorded his 11th shutout of the season on Sunday as he registered four saves. Meara finished second in the USL with a 0.79 goals-against average in the regular season.
Rochester Rhinos news and notes
2016 USL Cup Playoffs So Far
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: W 3-1 vs. Charlotte Independence
The Rhinos opened the defense of their championship with a solid win against the Charlotte Independence, as goals by Wal Fall, Steevan Dos Santos and Sofiane Tergou paved the way to victory.
Rochester is now on a 10-game undefeated streak (6-0-4) and has taken victories in four of its past five contests, including road victories against the Charleston Battery and Charlotte.
Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez claimed the USL Golden Glove as he recorded a 0.69 goals-against average in the regular season. Gomez recorded a pair of saves in Rochester’s win against Charlotte on Saturday.
The Rhinos lost in their only previous road game in the USL Cup Playoffs, 2-1 against the LA Galaxy II in 2014. The side has gone 6-2 on home turf in the playoffs since the league’s establishment in 2011.
New York Red Bulls II – F Brandon Allen: The standout rookie notched his 16th goal of the season in Saturday’s victory against Orlando, but will face a big test against a Rhinos defense that remains one of the best in the league. Allen will need to be sharp should he get a sight of goal against Rochester, but he’ll arguably be even more important to the side in its build-up play, creating space and picking out the right passes to allow the Red Bulls II’s attacking trio of midfielders to play the type of game they’re capable of.
Rochester Rhinos – M Kenardo Forbes: The veteran Jamaican doesn’t necessarily have the numbers that might show it, but watching Forbes you get the feel for how important he has become for the Rhinos over the past two seasons. Often, he’s the player making the pass before the pass that sets up the goal for the side, finding the seams in an opposing defense that gets players in down the flanks. His matchup against the Red Bulls II’s holding midfield duo – likely to be Dan Metzger and Tyler Adams – will be crucial to the contest as a whole.
2016 Team leaders
Goals: New York – Brandon Allen, 16; Rochester – Christian Volesky, 10
Assists: New York – Florian Valot, 7; Rochester – Steevan Dos Santos, 5
The Red Bulls II and Rhinos played to three draws – two scoreless, one 1-1 – during the regular season. The Rhinos have taken three wins against the Red Bulls II in the series overall, including last season’s 2-0 win at Rhinos Stadium at the same stage of the postseason, with Red Bulls II having yet to taste victory against their upstate New York rivals.
REF: Lucas Guarda
AR1: Eric Weidbrod
AR2: Victor Vazquez
4TH: Artur Sibiga
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