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Know your opponent: New York Red Bulls II

Following a scrappy 2-2 draw against defending champions Louisville City FC, Bethlehem Steel FC makes the short trip north to renew its rivalry with New York Red Bulls II at MSU Soccer Park on Friday, May 31 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The match is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.

Strengths

Goal Differential – New York Red Bulls II currently holds one of the best goal differentials in all of the USL Championship (+9) and certainly the best of any team Steel FC has seen this year. Not only do they punish you on the attack and take advantage of the smallest mistakes, they lock down on defense allowing limited opportunities to strike back. With 23 goals scored and only 14 goals allowed, this is going to be a tough one.

Weaknesses

Form – The visitors do have one thing going for them in that Red Bulls II are 0-2-1 in their last three matches. The club’s last win came against Birmingham on May 1, so now may be the right time to take on New York. Take it with a grain of salt though, because those two losses came against North Carolina and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Players to watch

Tom Barlow – Barlow has scored eight goals in eight appearances which earned him a first team contract. The 22-year-old is tall and lean, bringing a style of play that is both physical and fast. He’s tough to deal with and peppers opposing goalkeepers with shots, recording 17 shots on goal in 2019.

Marcus Epps – Know to both Union and Steel FC fans after two seasons with the squads, anyone who remembers his time recalls that the midfielder can cause issues in a number of ways. With three assists already this year, Steel FC’s defenders will have to be mindful of where he is at all times. 

Derrick Etienne Jr. – Although Etienne has only made four appearances for Red Bulls II this year, he’s made his presence on the field known. In those four matches, Etienne has already notched three goals and provided one assist.

Injuries/Suspensions
None

Head Coach
John Wolyniec – Wolyniec begins is fifth season at the helm of New York Red Bulls II. The Staten Island, New York, native was named 2016 USL Coach of the Year before leading his club to a USL Cup Championship in the same season. He has accrued a 61-34-18 regular season mark and a 7-3-2 playoff record as head coach over the last four seasons.

If the Steel’s last match was any indication, you’ll want to tune into what’s sure to be a heated affair on Friday, May 31 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The match is available on ESPN+.

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