Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls II
HARRISON, N.J. – The Harrisburg City Islanders got a goal from Manolo Sanchez to earn a 1-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena to take their first win of the 2017 USL season. The game lacked flow early, but both teams had chances in quick succession just before the half-hour mark as first Harrisburg’s Manolo Sanchez was denied by a good sliding tackle by New York’s Michael Murillo. The Red Bulls II’s Alex Muyl then forced a big save by City Islanders goalkeeper Brandon Miller. The Red Bulls II (1-1-1, 4pts) had more pressure to start the second half, but a defensive mistake by Murillo allowed Sanchez to break in on goal and calmly finish to give Harrisburg (1-1-0, 3pts) the lead in the 62nd minute. New York’s Zeiko Lewis almost found an equalizer 10 minutes later, only to see his effort slide wide, while Junior Flemmings headed just wide in stoppage time, but the Red Bulls II were unable to find an equalizer as a 12-game undefeated streak in the USL regular season came to an end.
62’ – HAR – Manolo Sanchez
Three Things That Matter:
1. Manolo Sanchez’s night for the City Islanders started brightly, but was starting to fade a little in the second half until he was gifted the chance to give his new club the lead in his first visit to Red Bull Arena since competing for the Red Bulls II in 2015. A calm finish for his first goal of the season must have been gratifying for Sanchez, who had four goals and one assist in New York to help the side reach the USL Cup Playoffs, as he lifted his new club to its first win of the season.
2. Harrisburg made sure its lead held up thanks to some tireless defensive work that saw the side close down the Red Bulls II quickly almost every time they found an opening. The City Islanders won 60 percent of the game’s duels, and 67 percent of its aerial duels as the Red Bulls II laid siege to their penalty area, but a stout performance led by Abbas Mohammed helped earn the shutout and a big three points.
3. The loss ended a 12-game regular-season undefeated streak for the Red Bulls II, which had gone 10 games undefeated as it claimed the 2016 USL regular season championship last fall. New York carried much of the play, but still has yet to find the level of chemistry that saw the club set a USL goal-scoring record a season ago. The pieces certainly look good, with rookies Arun Basuljevic and Zeiko Lewis both looking dangerous, but it might take a little longer than a season ago for it all to fit together.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Manolo Sanchez, Harrisburg City Islanders – Sanchez recorded the only goal to give the City Islanders their first victory against the Red Bulls II since 2015.
New York Red Bulls II at Saint Louis FC – April 8, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – April 15, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Park