Like our beloved Hounds, I’ve been on the road, working, tryin’ to make that paper for the past 48 hours, so this preview is a little late. I’ll be brief, which is good, because we pretty much already know the book on NYRBII, who are the junior team to NYRB 1, who are the junior team to RB Salzburg, who are the junior team to RB Leipzig.
Short and simple: this is the third and likely final time the Riverhounds will play New York this year. New York won the first match on a PK in stoppage time by Deri Corfe on July 26, and Pittsburgh took match two in a 4-1 beatdown that began with a Robbie Mertz PK less than two minutes into the match on August 8. So while the Hounds can claim to be higher in the table than NYRB II, claiming the deciding match of the series requires a win today at their stadium in Harrison, NJ.
I say likely because it is hypothetically possible for NYRB II to make the USL playoffs, but only if they start producing results. New York need to start that with win today. With 9 points in Group F, they trail Hartford Athletic for the second and final playoff spot by 7 points. Hartford, however, have a game in hand. NY is at the ‘every match they don’t win is dropped points’ phase of the year.
It is also worth noting that NYRB have seen some upheaval this week, as senior team coach Chris Armas was fired on Thursday. Armas had a respectable 29W-21L-11T record with NYRB, but the franchise failed to win the MLS Cup under him over the past two seasons, and looks shaky this year with an underwhelming 3W-4L-2T record this year. New York are one of only three ‘MLS original’ franchises never to have won MLS Cup, alongside Dallas and New England.
It’s another opportunity to see the Riverhounds without their team talisman Kenardo Forbes, who will be out 4-8 weeks with an upper-leg injury. Last match Bob Lilley filled in the middle by going with the three most electric attacking options: Anthony Velarde, Danny Griffin, and Robbie Mertz. The result was a thumping 3-0 win over Loudoun United. All three have been exceptional for the Hounds this year, but I was surprised when I noticed the numbers on Velarde have him as the most productive player on the team: the second-year attacking midfielder from California leads the Hounds with 1.18 Goals + Assists per 90 minutes.
For specifics on tactics and personnel, check out my earlier preview article here. And strap in folks: this should be a good one.
Last Week’s NYRB II Lineup
— New York Red Bulls II (@NYRBII) August 29, 2020
Date: Saturday, Sept. 5
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey
Television: 22 The Point
Radio: SiriusXM FC 157
Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live Updates: pittsburghsoccernow.com; Twitter at @RiverhoundsSC and #NYvPIT
Photo by Chris Cowger and c/o Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC