Toronto FC II are back in action this weekend as they travel to Red Bull Arena to take on NYRB II on Saturday afternoon. With the senior Red Bull team on a bye week they could very well field a strong team in the USL this weekend which will no doubt provide a tough test for our young Reds.
With NYRB II making their USL debut last weekend in a 0-0 draw we know very little about this weekend's opponent so we turn to the fine folks over at Once a Metro to get some insight. Here is what Aaron Bauer had to offer about their USL team:
1 - How has NYRB II gone about building their roster for this season? Do the bulk of the players come from within house?
NYRB II put together their roster quietly, and quite possibly at the last minute. For the game against TFC II there will be nine MLS players on loan, compared to the four from game one, and there will be all 5 academy player slots used once again. For the remaining 11 USL contracts, one of them Tyler Adams is an academy product who signed a pro contract. That alone has made the inaugural NYRB II season worth it. Last game, there were 4 academy players on the field at the same time. Player development is great to watch.
2 - Who are the players on the squad that fans should be watching in this game both in terms of the best players and the brightest Red Bulls prospects for down the road?
I would say look out for Marius Obekop, Anatole Abang, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Derrick Etienne, Tyler Adams (if he plays), and Marcello Borges. The first three are MLS players who are getting seasoning in USL as they work their way up to the first team. Obekop has been with the Red Bulls for 3 years now, and is a left midfielder. RBNY is very thin at that position, so if Obekop works out a lot of his weaknesses in USL, he should in theory have that spot on lock. Anatole Abang is an 18 year old striker out of Cameroon and just needs playing time in North America. Jean-Baptiste has been in MLS for a few years but the 22 year old has had his career stalled by injuries. Playing time is a must for him and he'll get it in both MLS and USL. Etienne and Borges are two academy players who looked really great in the debut game against Rochester. Borges is a very talented wingback and Etienne is one of the most highly rated players in the RB academy. I am really excited to see Adams because he signed a pro contract at only 16 years of age. He's worked out with the USYNT U-17 in Bradenton this year and is a really highly rated right back.
3 - What tactical approach does NYRB II use? Are they a team that likes to follow the example of the first team or do they do things differently?
The Baby Bulls play a 4-2-3-1 just like the Senior Team. I would expect them to play a "high pressure" system just like what Jesse Marsch has RBNY playing.
4 - With the first team on a bye week do you expect that will mean some short term loans being put in place to strengthen the USL roster?
Ten players: Connor Lade, Anatole Abang, Marius Obekop, Leo Stolz, Sean Davis, Santiago Castano, Shawn McLaws, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Karl Ouimette, and Manolo Sanchez will play with NYRB II because of the bye week.
5 - For TFC II to come away with three points in this game what do you think the key to success will be? Is there a glaring weakness in this team?
NYRB II's glaring weakness is defense and goaltending. The addition of Ouimette and Jean-Baptiste will help a very thin backline that managed to hold Rochester scoreless. Santiago Castano is a young goaltender who is prone to mistakes, to keeping pressure on him is paramount for TFC II to win.
6 - Predicted score?
2-1 NYRB II. The addition of Abang, and real MLS defenders should help a NYRB II team that looked alright last week get better. I just hope the academy kids keep playing.
7 - Does this team have a fun nickname yet?
Everyone has been calling them the baby bulls because RBNY fans are unimaginative and any team below the senior team gets called the baby bulls. Dos Toros is getting a little traction.