Photo courtesy Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The No. 7-seed New York Red Bulls II managed a big upset to keep their USL Cup title defense alive with a 4-0 win against the No. 2-seed Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday night in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. Stefano Bonomo pulled all the strings for New York in the opening minutes but could not take advantage as the Battery defense held out well. In the 17th minute a free kick for the Red Bulls II went agonizingly close as the ball into the penalty area found Florian Valot whose header went inches wide of the post. At the other end Hassan Ndam was vital for New York as he routinely stood up to make challenges, stopping the Battery attack before it could get shots away. As the half wore on the Battery pushed more and more with Ataulla Guerra the main danger man for the hosts but before halftime a stunning header gave the Red Bulls II the lead. A perfect cross from Junior Flemmings allowed Bonomo to put home an impressive diving header to break open the match. A perfectly executed set piece move right off the training park doubled the defending champions’ lead early in the second half when some slick passing ended with the ball in the back of the net after Arun Basuljevic set it up for Ethan Kutler, who unleashed a rocket of a shot, hitting the back of the net at speed to make it 2-0. The Red Bulls II wrapped up the win in the 71st minute as Valot was able to get on the end of a rebound from Bonomo’s shot to give New York a third, and the visitors then put the icing on the cake in the 84th minute as Andrew Tinari set up Ben Mines, who controlled with his first touch of the match, then scored with his second to secure passage to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
39’ – NY – Stefano Bonomo (Junior Flemmings)
51’ – NY – Ethan Kutler (Arun Basuljevic)
71' - NY - Florian Valot
84' - NY - Ben Mines (Andrew Tinari)
Three Things That Matter:
1. With four goals on the night, the Red Bulls II continued their impressive run of scoring in USL Cup Playoffs matches. The goal in this match marked five straight matches that the Red Bulls II have scored in the playoffs. New York has only once failed to score in a USL Cup Playoffs match, the 2015 Conference Semifinals, when it was defeated by the Rochester Rhinos, who went on to win the USL Cup that season. Scoring the opener means New York has now scored the opening goal in more in the postseason than not, with this being the fourth time the Red Bulls II have scored the opener in a playoffs match compared to conceding first three times.
2. It was the willingness to take chances which was the difference in this match with the Red Bulls II leading in total shots 15-12, but holding a commanding 7-1 lead in shots on target. The first two shots on target in the match resulted in New York's first two goals as the Red Bulls proved too clinical for the Battery. After being named to the USL Team of the Week in the final week of the regular season, Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper was not up to the same standard as the quality of finishing from New York proved too much for to handle.
3. For all of the success the Red Bulls II have had in the USL Cup Playoffs, the defense has struggled significantly in these matches and over the course of the 2017 regular season. On this occasion they stood up, with Ndam being especially impressive at the back. It was just the second time in a USL Cup Playoffs match that NYRB II had kept a clean sheet, with the last coming at the same stage last year, a 4-0 win against Orlando City B.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Stefano Bonomo, New York Red Bulls II – Influential throughout the match, Bonomo scored the opening goal of the match and had the shot which led to the rebound on the third which sealed the match.
Charleston Battery – End of season
New York Red Bulls II - Eastern Conference Semifinals, TBA