WEEK 6 PREVIEW – Hounds Look to Tame Young Red Bull II

 Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2-1-2, eight points) vs NY Red Bull II (1-3-2, five points)

Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
2 p.m.

Live Stream on YouTube/Riverhounds.com

Viewing also at Highmark Stadium’s Pub, as doors open at 1 p.m.

About Red Bull II
Head Coach – John Wolyniec
USL Expansion team
Affiliate of New York Red Bull (Major League Soccer)

Last Game – Red Bull II were shut out for the second consecutive game, at Rochester, 2-0, last week, in a physical match as Alex Dixon and Jonny Mendoza scored for the Rhinos to help them stay atop the USL’s Eastern Conference table.

Game Storylines

This is a game matching two teams going in two different directions.

After a pair of ties against St. Louis and Louisville, the Riverhounds had a resounding 5-1 win over Toronto FC II last Saturday, to extend a three-game unbeaten string.

The Hounds head to New Jersey to play in one of Major League Soccer’s soccer only stadiums, with two of the USL’s top goal scorers in Kevin Kerr and Rob Vincent– as they’ve combined for eight of the team’s 13  goals through five games this season.

The Riverhounds appear to be finally building a team with roster stability, choosing not to affiliate with a MLS team in 2015, and working to get better with each week.

Head coach Mark Steffens is feeling optimistic following the team’s big win last Saturday:

“We’re just starting to build chemistry right now. I think the best is yet to come.”

This is an important game for the Riverhounds to build points, as they look to stay within striking distance of the teams in front of them, before heading into a stretch in May when they will visit third-place Charleston Battery, then home-and-home encounters with second place Richmond Kickers.  Last night, Louisville FC lost their first match of the year at the expansion Charlotte Independence, opening the door for the Hounds to push past them in the standings.

Steffens addressed only a few injury concerns this week, as Max Touloute has been ruled out with knee, while Matt Dallman and Drew Russell are listed as questionable. Fejiro Okiomah, who sat out last week’s game after dealing with lingering quad strain issues, appears to be ready to get back on the field.

For the fourth straight game, the USL expansion Red Bull squad will be taking on a mainstay league franchise — after taking on Rochester, Richmond and Charleston during an eight-day stretch.

Having started 23 different players in their first six matches, the Red Bull II are clearly team still trying to find the balance between providing talented young players with valuable playing experience while trying to win regularly at this level. And, it’s not unusual to see them call up a large number of players that currently play on their MLS team. Manolo Sanchez is the only player that has played and started in all six of their matches.

In week two, they turned a few heads around the USL, as they called up 10 players from their current MLS roster for their match against Toronto FC II.  That was the Red Bull II’s only win of the season, 4-1.  Since then, they’ve alternated game day rosters, featuring a heavy USL squad in 2-0 loss to Rochester, but a big MLS contingent lost 1-0 at Richmond and had a strong performance against Charleston, 1-1.

With the Red Bull MLS team playing late last night in New England, we are not expecting to see a lot of players from their first-team in today’s match.

This will not be the first match between the Riverhounds and a team from the Red Bull organization. Last year, the Hounds defeated Red Bull’s U-23 team, 3-1, in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“The guys will be excited to play at a beautiful Major League Soccer stadium and it should be a great experience for them,” Steffens said.

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