New York Red Bulls II Defeat Swope Park Rangers, 3-1, in Season Opener

By

Published March 21, 2019
A A A Share
The Montclarion

The New York Red Bulls (NYRB) II defeated the Swope Park Rangers, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon in their United Soccer League (USL) Championship season opener at MSU Soccer Park. A brace from Tom Barlow and a goal from Marcus Epps secured the three points for NYRB II who started the season in dominating fashion.

NYRB II’s first game of the 2019 USL Championship featured a rematch of the 2016 USL Cup Final against Swope Park Rangers – sporting Kansas City’s USL affiliate – which resulted in a 5-1 victory for John Wolyniec’s men. Saturday’s encounter marked just the second time the two sides faced each other.

Early in the first half, NYRB II quickly dictated the pace of the game and presented a constant threat to the Rangers’ backline. Within the first 15 minutes, NYRB II had an astonishing five shots on target, with none of them being converted to a goal. The first 15 minutes also featured a NYRB II side that proved too much to handle for the Rangers, with constant counterattacks and dominant ball possession, along with Epps having the backline on their toes with constant runs.

The Rangers struggled to keep the ball when it was in their possession and quickly lost it due to a lack of communication that went from the backline to the midfield. Still the game remained scoreless with NYRB II failing to put the ball behind the back of the net.

The finishing problems continued in the 25th minute when Florian Valot provided Barlow with a slick through ball, leaving him one-on-one against Rangers goalie Eric Dick inside the box, again resulting in another grand save.

Barlow’s luck changed one minute later when Epps provided a through ball from midfield, with Barlow beating Rangers’ backline to the ball, then beating Dick to the ball to then shoot toward an empty goal, scoring NYRB II’s first goal of the season. NYRB II took the lead 1-0 in the 26th minute.

Epps looked to add on to the scoresheet in the 32nd minute when he dribbled himself inside the box using scissors, firing a right-footed shot but was denied by Dick who was becoming a key figure in the game.

When it all seemed like NYRB II would go into halftime up 1-0, the Rangers, whose performance got better after NYRB II’s opening goal, responded with the equalizer in the 44th minute. The Rangers’ only shot on target lead to a goal when Jerome Mbekeli made his way past a struggling Allen Yanes, delivering a cross from the right flank to Felipe Hernandez who fired a first touch shot from inside the box passed NYRB II’s Evan Louro.

The second half featured a NYRB II side that looked to seal the game once and for all, avoiding to start the season letting points slip at home, a problem the team suffered last season due to allowing last minutes goals at MSU Soccer Park.

After an incredible display in the first half in which Epps tallied an assist and created multiple opportunities to score, Epps was rewarded with his first goal of the season and first goal as a NYRB II player in the 55th minute. After a breakthrough from Vincent Bezecourt in which he dribbled past multiple Rangers players, Bezecourt passed to Epps, who, from outside the box, curled in a shot to the top right corner beating Dick.

In the 62nd minute Barlow sealed the game, scoring his second goal of the game. Assisted by a Jared Stroud, who entered in the second half for Valot, through ball, Barlow went one-on-one against Dick and this time slipped it past the back of the net. The goal cemented the victory and was Stroud’s, who led the team in assists last season (11), first assist of the season.

For the remainder of the game, NYRB II continued to create opportunities but ultimately settled for the 3-1 victory in front of a crowd of 727 spectators at MSU Soccer Park.

NYRB II’s next game will be on Saturday, March 24th against Nashville SC at MSU Soccer Park with kickoff set for 1 p.m.

Join the Conversation