July 11, 2012
Red Bulls U-23 take conference with 5-1 win
HARRISON, N.J. —The New York Red Bulls Academy U-23 team rolled to a 5-1 win over the New York Athletic Club, clinching the regular season title of the National Premier Soccer League Northeast-Atlantic Conference in action at Harrison High School Wednesday night.
|Former Red Bulls forward John Wolyniec directed the team's Academy U-23 title wto the NPSL Northeast-Atlantic Conference tile with a 5-1 victory over NYAC.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Coached by former Red Bulls forward John Wolyniec, the Red Bulls completed the regular season with an 11-3-0 record for 33 points, two points clear of the second-place Brooklyn Italians (10-3-1, 31).
Wednesday’s victory sets up the Red Bulls for the NPSL playoffs, where they will host the second-place team from the Northeast-Keystone Conference at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J. on Saturday at 8 p.m..
The Red Bulls built a 2-0 first-half lead on a pair of unassisted goals for John Gurel, one early and one late. Gurel gave the home team the upper hand when he struck in the third minute and then he helped shape the way the second half would be played when he put the Red Bulls up, 2-0, in the 44th minute.
NYAC, which needed three points out of each of its remaining matches to stay alive in the playoff race, gained a flicker of hope on a goal by Henning Sauerbier in the 61st minute.
But the Red Bulls' Konrad Plewa scored twice in 11 minutes (66th minute and again in the 77th minute) to dash all NYAC hopes. Blerti Hajdari put an exclamation point on the night, converting a pass from Dan Metzger to cap the scoring at 5-1 less than seven minutes from the end. Sean Davis also assisted for the Red Bulls, helping out on the second Plewa score.
The final shots favored the Red Bulls, 14-6, as NYAC goalkeeper Adam Purdy collected four saves, while Shelson Dorleans made two stops in front of the Red Bull net.
The win gained the Red Bulls a split in the home-and-home series with NYAC, which prevailed, 2-1, on June 16 when the teams met on Travers Island.
Gurel’s opening two goals were solo efforts, as he struck from 40 yards out to make it 1-0 in the third minute and then carried across the top of the box, right-to-left, and fired a left-footed shot inside the left post to make it 2-0 in the final minute of the opening half.
“Gurel really helped us,” Wolyniec. “We talked before the game about getting off to a quick start and when you get a goal that early, it makes it very difficult for the other team, especially when they’re playing on the road.”
The opening goal, from far out, took two caroms before settling into the goal. Gurel’s long drive to the top right corner, pinballed off the right post, then to the cross bar and back across the goal before settling over the line inside the left post.
With a tie being no better than a loss in terms of its spot in the standings, New York Athletic Club gambled on increased defensive pressure in its offensive third of the field to start the second half and the visitors enjoyed their best stretch out of the break.
The first really good chance for New York Athletic Club arrived in the 60th minute, but John Niyonsaba’s try hit the crossbar in the 60th minute. A minute later, with the pressure continuing, NYAC was rewarded when Sauerbier controlled a high ball as it bounced off the artificial turf in the goal area. Dorleans, the Red Bull keeper, came out to try to break up the play, but when he failed at that, Sauerbier, looking at an unprotected goal, tapped the ball home, trimming the deficit to 2-1.
The scare was short-lived, however, as Plewa pushed the Red Bull advantage back to two goals just five minutes later, driving down right wing and firing inside the right post for an unassisted tally.
“Konrad made a great play and he really changed the game,” Wolyniec said. “Instead of having to spend the rest of the game protecting a one-goal lead, he let us catch our breath and relax.”
The three second-half Red Bull goals and several other strong chances were the result of long passes on counter attacks in response to the New York AC pressure. “(New York Athletic Club) closed space on us and when they did that, it left them vulnerable,” noted Wolyniec.
Plewa added to the 3-1 lead when he took a drop pass from Davis and then fired inside the left post from 10 yards away in the 77th minute. The Hajdari goal was more of the same, as Metzger fielded a long pass and then flicked a pass across the box to an unmarked Hajdari, who scored from 12 yards.