BY MIKE NASTRI
For the second straight U.S. Open Cup play-in match, the New York Red Bulls fielded a reserve team, and for the second straight match their reserves outplayed an MLS opponent playing multiple starters.
John Wolyniec scored two goals while Sinisa Ubiparipovic added a long-range blast to give the Red Bulls a 3-0 victory against the New England Revolution on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.
The win moves New York a step closer to the U.S. Open Cup. The Red Bulls next face the Colorado Rapids in another Open Cup play-in match on May 26th at Red Bull Arena, with a place in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 on the line.
New England only traveled 14 players, but still boasted a lineup with seven or eight regulars. That didn't stop a Red Bulls squad made up mostly of reserves from outplaying the Revs. They held possession for a large majority of the match and limited a Revs attack led by rookie sensation Zack Schilawski.
Brian Nielsen was a big part of the success for the Red Bulls in the first half as the Dane controlled the attack from the left wing.
"I think Brian is showing his pace, his technique is good, he has a very good strike, and I think he will just improve game-by-game, that's for sure," said head coach Hans Backe. "In a way, the two midfield players [Nielsen and Ubiparipovic] controlled the game."
Nielsen would get on the score sheet later with an assist, but it was his penetrating ball to Connor Chinn that gave New York the lead. Chinn found himself on a breakaway but wasn't able to put the ball past a sprawling Bob Shuttleworth. John Wolyniec collected the rebound and eventually scored on his second shot after the first was blocked by a Revs defender.
The Red Bulls would have another golden opportunity after an overlapping run by Chris Albright in the 43rd minute. Albright played a low ball across the goal mouth only to see Chinn miss a wide open goal.
Although the Red Bulls dominated the first half and had a 1-0 nothing walking into the halftime, the team only looked dangerous a few times. NYRB constantly played the ball backwards rather than playing an attacking ball forward.
"It's too many side passes and too many support passes you to turn with the ball back and we have to attack much, much more when we have the possibilities, otherwise we just slowed the game down," said Backe.
That changed in the second half as New York peppered the Revolution goal with 10 second half shots.
"In the second half we really took advantage of being in attacking positions and took advantage when we were in those positions, said World Cup bound defender Andrew Boyens.
The Red Bulls looked dangerous from the second half kick and the inevitable 2-0 lead came in the 62nd minute off a set piece. Nielsen laid the ball off to Sinisa Ubiparipovic who hit a low bullet into the left corner of the net for the 2-0 lead.
It didn't take long for NYRB to strike again as Wolyniec roofed a deflection on an Ubiparipovic shot to make it 3-0 Red Bulls in the 64th minute.
It was an important game for Wolyniec, who has struggled to find time in a crowded attacking corps for the NYRB. Wolyniec showed his nose for goal with his 33rd and 34th goal in a Red Bulls uniform.
"I'm glad I got a chance to run around and make some plays, said the Fordham grad. "It definitely wasn't my best performance, but I'll take it. I still have some fitness to work on, but overall, definitely a good step in the right direction."
The Red Bulls goals were not spectacular but still were products of hard work by the NYRB second squad. However, Revolution coach Steve Nicol wasn't too impressed with first two goals by Wolyniec and Ubiparipovic.
"I'm disappointed in the first two goals, the first one was clearly offside, and the second one the guy was standing in an offside position besides the goalkeeper," Steve Nicol said. "Those two goals for me shouldn't have been goals."
Nicol can complain about the goals, but the Revs were outplayed. The team looked tired in the second half with limited subs, and the Red Bulls took advantage.
The match provided another example of just how deep the Red Bulls team is. They have two full teams that can compete on a day to day basis against MLS teams with a majority of MLS regulars. This will certainly help a Red Bulls team currently in the middle of playing 12 games in 42 days.
"I think we have a great squad this year because we're deep, and we can have guys come in and out," said defender Carlos Mendes. "It's a big part of the MLS season, there's a lot of games and it's a long season. We're going to need everybody and right now, it looks great. It's exciting that we don't lose a beat."