Photo courtesy Charleston Battery
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Following a dominant victory over the No. 2-seed Charleston Battery in the USL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, confidence is flowing for the defending USL Cup champion New York Red Bulls II, who continued their postseason success of a season ago in emphatic style at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday night.
For NYRB II Head Coach John Wolyniec the hope was the confidence gained from the 4-0 victory, the first postseason road win in the club's short history, will carry it into a difficult match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies next week.
"I feel like we've gained some confidence over the last few weeks," said the 2016 USL Coach of the Year. "We showed a lot of that tonight, we beat a good team on the road at their place where they have been good. A lot of weapons on their side of the field. We scored great goals. Hopefully, our guys feel really confident going forward because I really think we can go far."
The only upset in the Eastern Conference over the opening weekend of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs, the Red Bulls II dominated a Battery side that had only lost once at home in the regular season. The loss was the heaviest home defeat for the Battery in the club's USL-era history dating back to 2011 as the Red Bulls II matched the manner of their win against Orlando City B to open the 2016 postseason. The decisiveness of New York's display came from a strong set-up installed by Wolyniec, who pushed the team to attack.
“We took care of their threats, we did a good job at that. Did a lot of the stuff we ask them,” said Wolyniec. “Being mobile in the attack and aggressive in good moments, got the ball in good spots. That shows the four goals that we scored, a lot of good performances from the guys. I am proud of them."
The victory also matched the Red Bulls II's biggest margin of victory in the 2017 regular season, a 4-0 win against FC Cincinnati on Aug. 19 on its home turf of MSU Soccer Park. The victory also was reminiscent of the manner in which New York swept to success a year ago, with three second-half goal allowing the side to pull away from a Battery side that finished with only one shot on goal.
“The last two months we've been trying to find a complete game performance and tonight was probably the closest we've come to that,” said midfielder Andrew Tinari. "Once we went 2-0, we kept pushing which we have struggled in the past games. With the assist, it was the fourth goal, but it sealed the deal. Keeping a clean sheet was one of our biggest problems this year. With getting the goal right away, it builds confidence and hopefully, it continues.”
With the win, the Red Bulls II have set up a thrilling match with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Eastern Conference Semifinals, a rematch from the encounter between the two sides just two weeks ago, which left NYRB II frustrated after suffering a 3-2 defeat at Al Lang Stadium. The visitors had pulled within a goal of the Rowdies that night after a good start to the second half, but a red card to defender Jordan Scarlett for a second yellow card in the 63rd minute took the wind out of New York's sails and allowed Tampa Bay to split the regular-season series between the clubs.
“We split games with them so they are a tough opponent," said Wolyniec. "A team with quality players, we just got to watch the things that we did when we played them home, implement that and fix some of the things we did when we played them on the road. It’s another tough place to play, a lot of good and experienced players but we are in a good way and certainly not afraid of anybody.”
Given the confidence within the squad gained from the victory against another experience squad in the Battery on Saturday, and their previous meetings with Tampa Bay this season, Tinari believes the defending champions will have a chance to ride their momentum to a second consecutive road win.
"We won at home and then we lost at their house. We have a good shot," said Tinari. "Our confidence coming out of this game it's at an all-time high so we will see."