MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Kyle Murphy scored a pair of goals to move to 13 for the season as Memphis 901 FC took a 3-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II on Sunday afternoon at MSU Soccer Park to move within three points of the playoff positions in the USL Championship’s Central Division with three games in hand on current fourth-placed side OKC Energy FC.
Both teams opened energetically, and Memphis almost had an early chance when Leston Paul sent a sweeping ball into the space behind a high Red Bulls II back line only for defender Kyle Zajec to shepherd the ball to safety as Murphy went in pursuit. 901 FC began to gain the upper hand after the opening 10 minutes, though, and in the 20th minute the visitors were awarded a penalty kick after a handball in the box. Murphy stepped up and slotted his shot into the bottom-right corner as Red Bulls II goalkeeper AJ Marcucci dove the opposite way.
Memphis added its second goal of the day five minutes later as center back Skylar Thomas rose highest to head home a corner kick by Trinidad and Tobago international Dre Fortune on the right into the right corner of the net, and on the half-hour mark Marcucci had to come up with a pair of big saves to keep Murphy from scoring a third for the visitors as he parried the New York native’s initial shot before gathering the second effort.
The Red Bulls II tried to find a way back into the game and 11 minutes before halftime Cameron Harper cut past a defender after receiving a free kick at the top-left edge of the penalty area for a shot that was blocked behind for a corner. Guadeloupe international Luther Archimede also went close a couple of minutes later as he got onto Jeremy Rafanello’s leading header into the penalty area only to send his left-footed finish off target, but in the 39th minute the hosts were reduced to 10 men as Daniel Edeman was sent off after a second yellow card.
Despite being down a man, New York pushed the tempo the open the second half. In the 54th minute a direct move upfield saw Rafanello find Omar Sowe in space in the left channel before the forward cut centrally into the penalty area and had a shot from 12 yards blocked by Memphis’ Niall Logue for a corner kick. On the hour mark the hosts had their best spell of the game as Harper got past a defender after a 901 FC turnover but was denied by a kick-save from 901 FC goalkeeper Cody Cropper. New York kept the attack alive, and Sam Williams fired a shot from 20 yards that Cropper parried before a cross from the right by Harper gave Sowe a chance to head on goal, only for his chance to be blocked by Thomas.
A minute later from a corner kick Cropper was called on again as Harper’s deliver from the right found Mandela Egbo for a strong header that was tipped over the crossbar. Memphis then tried to settle the game back down, and almost struck themselves as Fortune fired a low shot from a free kick on the top-left edge of the penalty area to the bottom-right corner of the net, forcing a good save by Marcucci. 901 FC then had a golden chance with 17 minutes to go as Laurent Kissiedou received a pass from Murphy in the right side of the penalty area but sent his finish well over the crossbar.
With 12 minutes to go, however, Murphy struck again to seal victory for the visitors as after Michael Salazar intercepted a clearance in the New York half he quickly found fellow second-half substitute Rashawn Dally. The winger played an angled ball from the left into the penalty area for Kissiedou, whose touch put the ball into the path of Murphy for a calm finish into the bottom-right corner, making him the leading scorer in 901 FC’s short history.
New York had a chance at a consolation goal in the 86th minute as Nicholas Rabiu fired just over the top-right corner from the top of the penalty area, while Murphy almost completed his hat trick in the final minute as on a counterattack he found space on the left side and cut inside onto his right foot for a shot to the top-left corner only for Marcucci to make an excellent one-handed save. 901 FC saw out the result from there, however, to set up a big week at home in the next seven days.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Kyle Murphy, Memphis 901 FC – The New York native reached a landmark in 901 FC history in front of friends and family with a pair of goals while finishing the game with five shots and one key pass for the visitors.
MEM – Kyle Murphy (Penalty Kick) 21’
MEM – Skylar Thomas (Dre Fortune) 26’
MEM – Kyle Murphy 79’