New York Red Bulls II are USL Champions. They put an exclamation mark on their season, winning 5-1 over Swope Park Rangers in the USL Cup Final. The Red Bulls became the first “MLS 2” team to win the cup and capped off an impressive sophomore season. The cup final is the second trophy NY won this year after finishing the season as league leaders.
New York Red Bulls II: Champions Of USL
NY came flying out of the gates and put SPR under significant pressure. The high press yielded a number of good opportunities including. The opener came from from Derrick Etienne Jr. In the 18th minute. Brandon Allen intercepted a poor back pass from SPR and found Etienne at the top of the box. The second year midfielder curled the shot around the diving Adrian Zendejas.
Allen continued to contribute to the score sheet for the rest of the night, netting a hat trick with goals in the 39th, 85th, and 88th minutes. All three of the goals were trademark poacher goals from Allen. The USL Cup MVP always found a way to be in the right spot at the right time.
“It feels amazing,” said Allen after the game. “But I wouldn’t be able to have those achievements without my teammates, they’ve been there for me the whole season and they’ve been a big part of my success.”
The Red Bulls gave fans a nervy moment, conceding in the 74th minute to cut the score to 2-1. After a rough tackle by Dan Metzger, Swope Park had a free kick 35+ yards from goal. Tomas Granitto took the kick and it bounced through traffic into the box. Ryan Meara saw it late and was slow to react. The ball trickled into the net and Swope Park suddenly had life in the game.
Allen dashed those hopes 10 minutes later scoring his second of the match. The introduction of Stefano Bonomo sprung new life into the NY attack. Bonomo played a big part for the rest of the match.
Bonomo’s first action in the game included holding off a heavy challenge from behind, spinning past a defender, and crossing the ball to start the scrum that led to the goal. The play included four shots from the Red Bulls before Allen slotted the ball home.
Stefano continued his stellar play. He beat a defender to the end line and found Allen for his third. His cross evaded three defenders. Finally, Bonomo made a tremendous pass the find Etienne streaking down the right side. The “Haitan Messi” sent a perfectly curled low cross behind the SPR backline to Vincent Bezecourt. He finished first time in stride to close out the game.
Manager John Wolyniec credited the team’s leaders in the locker room. “The leadership in the group is very good, a number of guys stepping up, making comments. A lot of guys wanted to talk tonight about what we should be focused on and what we should be doing. When you’re a coach and you step back and the players are talking about the right things before the game, during the game, at halftime, it’s a great thing and I’m very proud of that. I think it was just the energy of the opportunity to play in a huge game, in a final at home.”
Wolyniec has done very well for NY’s reserve side. He brought a number of players along during the season, and found the right balance for the team. “Woly” did something no coach has done in the RBA-era of the team once called the Metrostars. He won the ultimate prize at the end of the year.