Baby Bulls Stumble on First Half Red Card, Lose to Battery

It was a perfect evening at Montclair State University for the opening kickoff of a game between the New York Red Bulls II and Charleston Battery. Many of the same players who started for the Baby Bulls in a recent 2-1 victory, were in the lineup to try and do it again. This included young first team players like Caden Clark and Wikelman Carmona who started on offense for the Baby Bulls.

However, the Red Bulls II did not get off to a good start when a Battery forward received a long pass into the box and shot it high and off the cross bar. Five minutes later, Charleston's Robbie Crawford took a shot that went off the post and out, making it the second straight close call for the Baby Bulls.

However, there were times in the first half where the Red Bulls II seemed to have the upper hand. In the 20th minute, Charleston had a goal kick and their goalkeeper Hugo Fairoux passed the ball up the middle where it was intercepted by the Red Bulls II. But Steven Sserwadda sent a pass too long ahead of striker Zach Ryan and into the hands of Fairoux.

Charleston would finally break through in the 32nd minute, when one of their players was taken down inside the box and Augustine Williams converted the spot kick for the away side. Ten minutes later, Charleston made it 2-0 when Aidan Apodaca took advantage of a mistake from Red Bull defender Daniel De Leon, dribbled in and scored.

The biggest blow to Red Bull was losing Caden Clark, who received a straight red card in the 44th minute on a controversial play. A Charleston player tugged at Clark's jersey and Clark took a half-swing at him, which caused both teams to come together and start pushing each other. In the end, Clark was sent off and the Charleston player was only given a yellow card, which sparked outrage from Clark and the fans who had come out to see the game.

Second Half Events

The Baby Bulls were already down 2-0 going into the second half and could ill afford to let another goal in but that is just what happened five minutes inside the half. The Battery sent a cross to the back post where no defender was covering Apodaca who scored his second of the game.

In the 68th minute, the Red Bulls II nearly scored when Red Bulls II midfielder Jesus Castellano passed over to Curtis Ofori, inside the box. Ofori took a cool shot on the run that had beaten the goalkeeper but went off the right post.

For the remainder of the second half, the Red Bulls II were lucky that Nikopolidis was sharp in goal or else the game could have gotten worse. Last year's BIG EAST goalkeeper of the year ended up making eight saves on the evening, including two in the 77th and 78th minute.

Despite being down three goals and a man, the Baby Bulls did not give up and in stoppage time, striker Zach Ryan scored a highlight-reel goal with his right foot.

Postgame Reactions

The Red Bulls II did not start this Friday night game off very well and put themselves at a disadvantage when Caden Clark was shown a red card. The Baby Bulls' interim head coach Ibrahim Sekagya discussed how his team responded after going down a man late in the first half.

You can see the goals. The second goal which we gave up, those are the goals which we feel like with the players, it gets you more down, but they responded well in the second half. We talked about the mentality to change, I think it changed with 10 men, we had more chances than 11. I think the players in the second half gave a good push.

The Red Bulls II were thoroughly outplayed throughout the match but Zach Ryan did save the team some disrespect by scoring in 90th minute stoppage time. The 23-year-old striker described how this night went as a whole for his team.

Iā€™m honestly frustrated that, you know, probably squandered a few chances earlier in the game that could have had us a bit more wiggle room to fly for points. Get us maybe one back and it's one goal to go but yeah, definitely good to get on the scoresheet for the first time. I've been trying my hardest to make that happen earlier, but just had to keep sticking with it. Yeah, just glad I got to hit the back of the net eventually.

The Red Bulls II will head out to Pittsburgh to play the Riverhounds on Aug. 20. at 7:oo PM. Streaming will be available on ESPN plus.

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Anthony graduated from Montclair State University, where he covered a variety of sports for three years. He co-hosts a sports-themed radio show on campus radio station, WMSC 90.3 FM, which was recently named #1 college radio station in the nation.