The Jersey Express defense held strong against New York Red Bulls 2 (USL) in the team’s second straight shutout. Photo: Bob Larson
A bait and switch occurred on Wednesday evening at NJIT Stadium in Newark, NJ. Despite their canary yellow kits and the seven Brazilians in the starting lineup, the home team, in fact, was not the Brazilian National Team; and although the visitors wore red and white uniform with a Red Bulls logo in the middle of their jersey, they were not same New York Red Bulls 2 that had played this season in the USL.
The members on loan from the Major League Soccer Red Bulls did not dress for Red Bulls 2’s first-ever Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match. Instead seven players from the Red Bulls U-18 to U-16 development academy squads dressed for the club’s Second Round match against the Jersey Express of the Premier Development League (PDL). Two of those academy players – Derrick Etienne and Juan Sanchez – got the start.
Similarly to the Express’ first round Open Cup victory against the New York Greek American SC, a header near the hour mark proved to be the winner. Jersey took a lead in the 58th minute off a powerful header Chris Karcz from a Brayan Martinez corner. The Express would survive multiple close calls to earn a 1-0 victory and advance to Round 3.
That goal was Karcz’s second of this year’s Open Cup tournament and the third of his career. The clean sheet was second for goalkeeper Matthew Turner.
The Red Bulls had the more talented individual players, nevertheless their youth and lack of chemistry showed. Jersey replied heavily on good organization, maintaining their shape in the back, and their maturity. In the first half New York enjoyed much of the possession, but failed to produce a shot. In the first half, the Express took nine and forced New York’s keeper, Rafael Diaz, into three saves.
“I thought we were the better team in the first half, but that’s soccer,” said Red Bulls 2 head coach John Wolyneic, who scored three Open Cup goals in his playing career. “I think the best stretch that we had came five minutes before they scored.”
Photo: Bob Larson
The goal by Karcz was against the run of play as Red Bulls 2 turned up the pressure in the second half. Jersey was efficient in their second half chances. In one of the few times the Express got into New York’s third, Marko Drljic ripped a left footed shot from outside the box led to the eventual game-winning corner.
Minutes later, the Baby Bulls, as many refer to them as, nearly answered with their own set piece goal off a corner kick. Red Bulls centerback Konrad Plewa’s open header from the far post somehow fell just wide right of goal. It stood as the visitor’s best chance on goal in the match.
The Express’ backline hold on for the next 30 minutes as the Red Bulls continued to throw numbers forward. After being emotionally amped up in their first tournament game last week, the Jersey Express steadied themselves to play controlled and smart soccer for the full 90.
“This is not our first home game anymore. We took advantage of playing home,” said Jersey Express coach Francisco ‘Chiquino’ Da Silva Jr. “After a while we got used to it and they were just playing against another eleven.”
With this victory the Jersey Express move on to play the New York Cosmos on the road. Originally the Express were to host the Third Round match in Newark, but maintenance to the turf forced the match on Wednesday, May 27 to be played at Belson Stadium at St. John’s University in Queens, NY.
Full match replay: NY Red Bulls 2 at Jersey Express