Harrisburg City Islanders forward Aaron Wheeler / File photo courtesy Harrisburg City Islanders
HANOVER, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls II and Harrisburg City Islanders played to a 1-1 draw in a preseason exhibition on Wednesday afternoon at the Red Bulls Training Facility as Florian Valot’s opener for the Red Bulls II was cancelled out by a late penalty kick by Aaron Wheeler for the City Islanders.
The 90-minute affair saw NYRB II sprinkle in a handful of first-teamers ahead of the senior team’s home opener at Red Bull Arena this Saturday, including newly-acquired Panamanian international, Michael Amir Murillo, who played 62 minutes in the contest.
The first half saw the wind dictate much of play as neither team recorded a shot until the 15th minute. As the half wore on, the Red Bulls II picked up the pace and pressed, and nearly took the lead in the 34th minute when Valot got in one-on-one, only to be denied by the Harrisburg keeper to keep the game scoreless.
“It was a bit windy, so it made the game difficult to play in, but I think our guys were committed,” said Red Bulls II Head Coach John Wolyniec. “We worked hard, we put a lot in to the game, dominated long stretches, and we got a good goal. Like I said, we put a lot into it.”
New York made some tactical changes after the break, and continued to control the tempo of the game. Those changes led to the opening goal in the 64th minute when Valot buried a cross from Vincent Bezecourt to take a 1-0 lead.
The lead held up with few chances for either side until the 83rd minute when Tim Schmoll was called for a foul inside the penalty area and the referee awarded a penalty kick to Harrisburg. Wheeler stepped up and converted from the spot for the visitors to earn a draw.
“It certainly wasn’t our best day of soccer,” said Wolyniec. “There are certainly some things to work on, so it’s good to get guys from the first-team some 90-minute games in for guys who haven’t gotten in for a while, but at the same time taking little steps toward the beginning of the season, and you know Harrisburg put up a great fight. It was a great test for us, a lot of good things for sure, but definitely some things to work on.”