New York Red Bulls II restarted the USL Championship season with games coming in quick succession. After a 1-0 loss against Hartford Athletic, which saw the Red Bulls dominate most of the game, the team went on the road and dominated a young Philadelphia Union II team, defeating them 5-1 at Subaru Park.
The Kids Shine
Across the two games a ton of debuts were handed out to academy players and other promising teenagers. In the game against Hartford, Caden Clark showed why he is one of the highest rated players born in 2003, as he was consistently finding dangerous spaces while looking aggressive and composed on the ball. He will be kicking himself for not finishing better but the promise was there. He was unlucky not to get assist as he fed Deri Corfe nicely whose shot ricochet off the post. Against Union II he would admit he didn’t have his best game but he still made an impact. Sebastian Elney’s goal started with Clark intercepting the ball at the top of the box and playing it one time to Deri Corfe who fed Elney in.
Another stand out is newly acquired academy player Daniel Edelman. Edelman spent his formative years with Player Development Academy but he isn’t a complete newcomer to the Red Bull setup. Edelman was a guest player during Generation Adidas Cup qualifying where he paired with Kenny Hot and Tapwia Shumba to form a midfield that dominated many of the same Union II players who were on the field Wednesday night.
In his first start Edelman showed why the club has been impressed early on. He connected on 45 of 60 passes, including 6 key passes. He was active in the press and showed a desire to be on the ball, opening himself up on many occasions to combine in tight spaces and facilitate the ball advancing up the field. He also nabbed himself a goal on a clean counter attack. On the defensive side of the ball, Edelman pitched in with 3 interceptions. The one downside to his game was that he lost almost all of his duels. This is a key stat for Red Bulls, however something the coaching staff expected him to struggle with a bit. As he puts on some muscle to his slender frame and gets more used to the physical side of the game he should improve in that area.
The final standout was Jake LaCava. LaCava showed the pace and power that has impressed the coaching staff early on. His two assists were perfectly waited putting the ball right in the path of the attackers. The second assist came on a counter he started after picking the pocket of a Union II attacker. He did well to carry the ball and wait for the defender to commit before feeding Edelman in on goal. The one concern with LaCava is being locked in for the entire game; at times it felt as if he would drift in and out of the match. Upping the consistency will be key part of his development.
The Tallest Left-back Ever?
At 6’7″ Joe Fala may be the tallest left back ever. Despite his size more typically seen in slower than average center-backs, such as Per Mertasacker, Fala has looked rather agile and fast. However, despite positive showing on the defensive side, the position still doesn’t seem right for him. While a solid passer, often making clean and crisp passes, he doesn’t venture far into the opposing half and at times Red Bull weren’t able to exploit the wide open space due to this. Defensively he often hangs back, rarely joining in the press on the left hand side. While his play has been admirable with John Tolkin returning from Orlando, it’s time to see what he can offer at center-back in order to truly see what his potential could be as he doesn’t fit the typical mold of a Red Bull Full Back.
Roy Boateng and Preston Kilwein Look Solid
In the two games played so far, the partnership of Roy Boateng and Preston Kilwein have put up two solid performances; neither goal can really be pinned on the center-back pair. Kilwein should have done better on the clearance that lead to Union II goal, however Fala ultimately lost his marker who drifted off his back shoulder.
It is great to see Boateng healthy and performing well after missing all of last season with a series of different ailments. Kilwein has also looked sharp impressing with his ability to connect passes, including line breaking passes to the feet of the front 3. They still have some communication issues to work out but they are showing a lot of potential to be a very strong partnership this season. The game this Sunday versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds will be a good test to really see how good they can be.