CHARLESTON, S.C. – For the second year in a row, the New York Red Bulls II went on the road and shut out the Charleston Battery in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals as the visitors claimed a 1-0 victory on Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium to advance in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs.
Tom Barlow’s first-half strike proved to be enough for the No. 5-seed Red Bulls II to replicate their postseason success over the No. 4-seed Battery and bring Charleston’s campaign to a disappointing end. New York advances to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where it will face 2018 USL Regular Season Champion FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on October 27 at 4 p.m. ET.
The Red Bulls II started the game on the front foot and could have taken the lead inside 60 seconds as Jared Stroud’s cross from the left wing found Amando Moreno inside the six-yard box, but the midfielder’s header sailed just wide of Joe Kuzminsky’s left-hand post.
The visitors, however, made their early pressure pay off in the 21st minute when Moreno played a cross-field pass to Tom Barlow, who chested the ball down near the left edge of the penalty area, created a yard of space and then curled a right-footed shot into the top-right corner from 20 yards out.
After falling behind, the Battery began to battle back into the game and create some chances of their own. Gordon Wild flashed a left-footed free kick just wide of Evan Louro’s goal in the 28th minute and just three minutes later, the Charleston winger got on the end of O’Brian Woodbine’s cross but his left-footed shot from inside the box sliced wide of the target.
New York came close to doubling its advantage just after the half-hour mark as Stroud’s shot from a narrow angle was parried behind by Kuzminsky. The Battery goalkeeper was left thanking the woodwork two minutes later as Stroud dinked a chip over his head that rebounded back off the right post.
The Battery ended the half in the ascendency as Wild forced a stunning save out of Louro in the 40th minute as the Red Bulls II goalkeeper got a palm to a right-footed effort that looked destined for the bottom-left corner. Wild should probably have scored five minutes later as he made a lung-busting run to get on the end of Nico Rittmeyer’s layoff but then skewed his left-footed shot wide from eight yards out.
The Red Bulls II struck the woodwork for the second time in the contest eight minutes after the break as Stroud curled a right-footed effort off the crossbar from the left side of the box.
After breathing a sigh of relief, the Battery continued pressing for an equalizer with Wild continuing to serve as the main attacking threat. In the 63rd minute, the winger found some space in the middle of the penalty area and met Tah Anunga’s cross with a side-footed volley that Louro was able to corral at the second attempt, before forcing another save out of the Red Bulls II goalkeeper nine minutes later with a left-footed drive from just outside the box.
New York nearly put the game away with a quarter of an hour to go as Kuzminsky was caught out of position after a poor clearance but made a splendid reaction save to deny Stroud, who was in one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Charleston just couldn’t get the equalizing goal it needed as a 93rd-minute penalty shout went unanswered by referee Rosendo Mendoza and Ian Svantesson’s header in the fifth minute of stoppage time hit Louro straight in the chest as the goalkeeper held on for a clean sheet to send his side through to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the fourth straight season.
21’ – NY – Tom Barlow (Amando Moreno)
#CHSvNY: Full Match and Opta Box Score
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jared Stroud, New York Red Bulls II – Stroud was a constant threat for New York all game long as he completed 45 passes, had two shots on target and struck the frame of the goal twice as the forward was unlucky to get on the scoresheet.
Eastern Conference Semifinals – New York Red Bulls II at FC Cincinnati, Saturday, October 27, 4:00 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium
Charleston Battery – End of Season