Photo courtesy Rich Graessle / New York Red Bulls II
MONTCLAIR, N.Y. – Zeiko Lewis’ first professional goal proved the difference as the New York Red Bulls II earned a 1-0 victory against the Richmond Kickers at the MSU Soccer Park on Saturday afternoon. The Red Bulls II (1-0-1, 4pts) had the better of the game early, and Arun Basuljevic almost curled home a finish in the 25th minute as the hosts pressured regularly. New York thought it had taken the lead five minutes into the second half, only for the offside flag to be raised on Junior Flemmings’ finish. Richmond’s Mikey Minutillo almost scored midway through the half, his shot from the right side of the penalty area clipping the crossbar, but moments later New York’s Lewis found the net as he capitalized on a scramble in the penalty area after a corner. The Kickers (1-1-0, 3pts) were aggressive in looking for an equalizer, and Chris Durkin pulled a shot wide of the left post with nine minutes to go, but New York held firm for its first win of the season.
69’ – NY – Zeiko Lewis
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Red Bulls II were much sharper with their passing than in the opening game of the season, and looked to overload the right side of the Kickers’ defense consistently with winger Vincent Bezecourt pulling inside to allow David Najem to overlap. The pressure almost produced the opening goal of the game as Bezecourt set up an offside Junior Flemmings for a goal. While the Red Bulls II’s goal didn’t come through this route, with the talent New York has at its disposal it shouldn’t be a surprise if the left channel is a productive area for the side over the season.
2. Richmond’s Braeden Troyer has been a mainstay in the Kickers’ back line over his career with the club, but on Saturday he was employed very gainfully as one of two holdings midfielders in the lineup alongside D.C. United Homegrown player Chris Durkin. The third-year pro was effective both helping shield the Kickers’ back line, but also in providing good distribution as he completed all 10 of his passes in the first half. If this is a permanent move it could be a very beneficial one for the Kickers’ overall and for Troyer individually as he steps into a bigger spotlight for the club.
3. After giving up three goals in its opening game of the season against Pittsburgh, the Red Bulls II defense looked a lot more solid on Saturday. The center back duo of Justin Bilyeu and Hassan Ndam maintained possession far better – aided in part by the Kickers’ electing to not employ the same pressure as Pittsburgh a week ago – and helped New York control the tempo of the game. While there were some shaky moments after the side went ahead, earning the side’s first shutout of the season will be pleasing for Head Coach John Wolyniec.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Justin Bilyeu, New York Red Bulls II – Bilyeu played a sound game defensively, and helped the Red Bulls II find space in the attacking third with some good long passes that got New York on the front foot.
New York Red Bulls II vs. Harrisburg City Islanders – April 5, 7 p.m. ET, Red Bull Arena
Richmond Kickers vs. Louisville City FC – April 8, 5 p.m. ET, City Stadium