Photo courtesy Mark Thor / Orlando City B
ORLANDO, Fla. – The New York Red Bulls II regained control of their playoff fate in the USL Eastern Conference after a wild 6-5 victory against Orlando City B at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday night. The Red Bulls II took the lead in just the third minute as Bonomo span past his marker after running onto a ball into space and curled a low finish into the right corner. Eight minutes later New York almost doubled its lead as Gideon Baah’s header from a corner kick by Andrew Tinari, but a minute later Florian Valot made no mistake from 25 yards with a finish that picked out the top-right corner of the net. OCB hit back in the 16th minute as Michael Cox eluded a challenge from the last defender and centered for Lewis Neal to finish into an open net. New York’s Junior Flemmings went close to restoring a two-goal lead as he cut past his man into the right side of the penalty area and fired just wide of the left post in the 37th minute, and a moments later a good cross from the left was almost knocked home by Cox for OCB as the hosts looked for an equalizer. Bonomo struck again for New York’s third of the first half as he hit home a blistering volley after Flemmings’ initial shot had been saved by OCB goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. Bonomo completed his hat trick six minutes into the second half as he lashed home a low shot off a good layoff by Flemmings, and four minutes later the forward’s dummy of David Najem’s low cross set up Arun Basuljevic’s to knock home a fifth. OCB tried to get back into the game, but Evan Louro produced two good saves to deny a pair of chances for Cox. Orlando pulled a goal back in the 67th minute when Zach Carroll scored from close range from Lewis Neal’s free kick, and a minute later Zach Ellis-Hayden forced a low save by Louro as OCB tried to strike again quickly. Orlando found a third with 13 minutes to go as Carroll’s knock back from another free kick by Neal allowed Fernando Timbo to score from close range, but Valot’s second of the night from the penalty spot with three minutes to go appeared to have wrapped up the victory for the Red Bulls II. Orlando tried one last surge, and got within a goal as Hadji Barry scored on a penalty kick of his own in the first minute of stoppage time before Austin Martz put away a finish on the next chance to attack for the hosts. Time ran out, however, as New York took away a remarkable victory.
3’ – NY – Stefano Bonomo (Ethan Kutler)
12’ – NY – Florian Valot
16’ – ORL – Lewis Neal (Michael Cox)
42’ – NY – Stefano Bonomo
51’ – NY – Stefano Bonomo (Junior Flemmings)
55’ – NY – Arun Basuljevic (David Najem)
67’ – ORL – Zach Carroll (Lewis Neal)
77’ – ORL – Fernando Timbo (Zach Carroll)
87’ – NY – Florian Valot (penalty)
90+’ – ORL – Hadji Barry (penalty)
90+’ – ORL – Austin Martz (Richie Laryea)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The New York Red Bulls II had never suffered defeat to Orlando City B going into Saturday night’s contest, and thanks to another dominant attacking display the visitors wrested back control of their playoff fate with the fourth win in five meetings between the clubs in the past two seasons. This one was far closer than it should have been, however, as the Red Bulls II let their foot off the pedal in the final half-hour and allowed Orlando to grab momentum – and almost an improbable comeback – that will have left Head Coach John Wolyniec with plenty to work on ahead of next Saturday’s game with the Rochester Rhinos.
2. New York has seen numerous players come to the fore during its current run of eight consecutive games in which the side has scored at least two goals, and against OCB it was Stefano Bonomo’s turn to take center stage. Bonomo set the stage only three minutes in with a brilliant move that left his marker stumbling, and then two excellent first-time finishes either side of halftime to complete his first professional hat trick. Maybe the biggest indicator of Bonomo’s confidence on Saturday came on New York’s fifth goal. Coming on a near-post run, Bonomo pulled the defense away and then produced a great dummy that allowed Arun Basuljevic the space to finish with a low shot.
3. Orlando City B’s hallmark this season had been a defense that had conceded less than a goal per game this season, but on a night when a win would have taken the side into the playoffs, it had its worst defensive performance since the Red Bulls II’s 4-0 win in the USL Cup Playoffs a season ago. The side’s late rally to almost pull out a result came up short, even though it could provide the side some confidence. It will need all the confidence it can get, however, as it will now not only need to earn victory against I-4 Derby rival the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Thursday night in its regular-season finale but also help if it’s to return to the postseason for a second consecutive season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Stefano Bonomo, New York Red Bulls II – Bonomo opened the scoring early, and went on to complete a hat trick in an outstanding attacking performance that led New York to victory.
Orlando City B vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies – October 12, 7:30 p.m. ET, Orlando City Stadium
New York Red Bulls II at Rochester Rhinos – October 14, 6:05 p.m. ET, Capelli Sport Stadium