Last week, TFC II wrote their way into the USL history books with a 2-0 victory over fellow Canadian expansion side FC Montreal. The Reds seemed to control the game like they have been doing in the beginning, but slowed down after 10 minutes. Still, the stellar play by captain Mo Babouli allowed the young Reds to earn their first victory in the USL.
This week's opponent is the expansion side out of New York, with the Red Bulls II playing their trade out of the Red Bulls arena and then at the Columbia University's Baker Field. The Red Bulls have been praised for their ability to grow top grade talent that usually transcends into first team success. This year's USL side looks to continue that trend with players like Leo Stoltz, Marius Obekop, Santiago Costano and Manolo Sanchez all looking to be top prospects for the Red Bulls.
TFC II will face their second expansion side in three weeks, making scouting their opponent a little more difficult. However they will have their hands full with a team like the Red Bulls II who can really add attacking pressure. Last week, the Red Bulls tied the Rochester Rhinos 0-0 in what was described as a entertaining game that didn't end with a winner. Let's talk about who the Red Bulls II are and what to expect from them.
This team is full of young players, with captain and midfielder Leo Stolz being the oldest at 24 years. This is normal though as most newly expanded teams are development teams for MLS sides to give young players playing time. Four players on the team are loaned out from the first team, while five were called up from the U18 team and are all college bound coming into the fall. Stolz was selected 18th overall by the Red Bulls in this years MLS Draft, being said to be one of the best players in the draft. He was drafted so late in the first round because most teams thought he would turn down an MLS contract to play in his native country Germany. He said he would only play for the Red Bulls or the LA Galaxy and was then persuaded to play in New York. Stolz is a box to box midfielder who can add a lot to the attack and the defence. He was the NCAA best player last year and won the NCAA Soccer Championship with the UCLA Bruins.
Besides Stolz, the Red Bulls have forward Sanchez, left winger Obekop and goalie Castano whom all can give this side a giant boast of energy. According to Once A Metro, they like to play a 4-2-3-1 just like the first team likes to play. Other players to look for are midfielder Kyle Zajec and Derrick Etinne, both who played for the U-18 team last season.
Keys to the Game
For TFC II to continue their good form of late and earn a second win, they will need to be wary of what the likes of Stolz, Sanchez and Obekop can do. Head Coach Jason Bent has told his team who to watch out for and what their tendencies are. Tightly marking Stolz who can sneak into the box and strike on net should be thought of if they want to win this match. Last week, Luca Uccello stood in for the missing Chris Mannella and added a boast to the midfield, distributing the ball well and moving up fast to send Babouli through balls. If TFC II can defend like they did last week and move the ball well into open spaces and not force a ball into danger, then they can win this game.
Marcos Nunes had a good game as well and can really give the team an option on the wing to cross the ball into the opposing box. Going down left side where Obekop resides could also help them, as Obekop does have a weakness in defending.
Finally, if Mo Babouli can continue his great form and work off a back to back USL team of the week honours, then this team can slay the dragon that is the mighty Red Bulls youth academy.
New York Red Bulls II
For the Red Bulls to win, they have to pressure the defence, that can break down if seen to be in danger. Another key would be to mark TFC II's leading scorer Babouli and to not allow him to get inside the box. If the Red Bulls can take the pressure right away from TFC II and pile on the shots, then it may be the Red Bulls who will leave home with three points.
The Red Bulls have sent down Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Connor Lade, Karl Ouimette, Sean Davis, Anatole Abang and Shawn Mclaws giving them a lot of options on the bench. Colin Hefron looks to continue his stellar form after being named to USL team of the week and Tyler Adams could make his professional debut after moving up the Red Bull ranks since he was 10 years old.
Follow along in the comments section below as Toronto FC II look for their second straight victory.