May 13, 2013
Red Bulls U-23 coach Nee "confident that we have enough quality ... and look to get past this round'
By Michael Lewis
Red Bulls Under-23 coach Simon Nee sees the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup as an opportunity for his team to gain some experience.
"It's an exciting thing for us and it certainly will add to bringing top prospects back for the summer," he said.
Well, the Red Bulls U-23 summer begins a little early this year, on Tuesday night at 7 o'clock, to be exact, when they visit the Ocean City Nor'easters in a Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup first-round match in Ocean City, N.J.
If the Red Bulls win, they will play either the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL PRO) in Pittsburgh, Pa. or RWB Adria (U.S. Adult Soccer Association) on May 21.
"The goal is to advance as far as we can," Nee said on Monday. "MLS teams play in the third round. That would be a real highlight.
"No doubt each round will have unique challenges."
Indeed it will be.
This is the first time the Red Bulls U-23 team will compete in the Open Cup. And before you get your hopes up of a Red Bulls-Red Bulls U-23 match-up in the cup, don't hold your breath. They are on opposite sides of the brackets, so the only team they would meet would be in the final. The chances of both teams reaching the championship game is astronomical.
Still, there's plenty of quality on this team. The team won the National Premier Soccer League's Atlantic Division title last year.
If Nee has a concern about games in May, it's that many National Premier Soccer League teams don't have their entire rosters this early in the season. And that includes the Red Bulls U-23 side.
"The guys are coming back a little late," he said. "We have a lot of quality on the roster. We are confident that we have enough quality on the roster and look to get past this round."
The team's quality includes Under-20 international forward Brandon Allen (Georgetown), midfielder Sean Sheridan (Villanova) and forward Daniel Bedoya (St. John's).
Up from the Red Bulls Academy U-18 side are three talented players -- attacking midfielder Adam Najem, midfielder Erik Sa and striker Ethan Decker.
They all are expected to play against the Nor'Easters.
"It will be an interesting challenge for us," Nee said.