By Brandon “Mazz” Marrazzo
The Red Bulls II squad finishes up a routine training session on a crisp spring day that feels like the beginning of November. A few days removed from their triumphant win of the extra point in a penalty shootout after a 90 minute battle with Atlanta United 2 that saw both squads level at one a piece.
Emerging Venezuelan midfielder Wikelman Carmona bagged his second goal of the season in the 57th minute to level things up for Red Bulls II. Carmona would go on to be a part of the five penalty takers (Ssebuufu, Edelman, Salinas and Ruiz) that all made their PK’s (penalty kicks) and sealed the win for the New York/New Jersey club.
Back at the training facility, Red Bulls II is gearing up for its Easter Sunday matchup against Crown Legacy FC (Charlotte FC’s MLS Next Pro affiliate). Red Bulls II comes into this one slightly lower on the standings table sitting at 15th after drawing in their games with Columbus Crew 2 (loss of extra point) and Atlanta United 2 (win of extra point). Both games saw Carmona score in regulation and both games ended up in PK’s.
It should be noted recent rule changes to MLS Next Pro sees the teams go straight to PK’s after regular time if tied, instead of the extra time fans have grown accustomed to over the years. Extra time does not result in a win for the regular season as a draw still goes down in the books. However an additional point is on the line for standings purposes during these PK’s. Red Bulls II head coach Ibrahim Sekagya was asked about his squad handling penalties this season with the rule change and had this to say-
Sekagya: “We had it (penalties) in the first one; And now everyone went into the game with confidence that we could convert it.”
Crown Legacy on the opposing side, are currently sitting in 11th after their first two matches saw them draw with Huntsville City FC (Nashville SC’s affiliate) (loss of extra point) and win (2-1) vs FC Cincinnati 2.
Brandon Cambrindge is on a three goal streak for Crown Legacy. This game should be must-see soccer for fans as the matchup could potentially feature TWO OF THE TOP FOUR GOAL SCORERS currently in MLS NEXT PRO in Cambridge.
Unfortunately for the matchup I say could because there are some rumblings that Carmona might have played himself into a call up with Red Bulls first team. However, starting RBII Canadian right-back O’Vante Mullings had this to say on the team’s mindset for their next match :
Mullings- “We’re looking to put together a complete performance. I thought last weekend we’ve built on a lot and improved in a lot of areas.”
Red Bulls II vs Crown Legacy FC will take place this Easter Sunday, April 9th 2023. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM at MSU Soccer Park at Montclair State University.