Photo Credit: Mark Carosiello

Red Bulls II Stampede Past Atlanta after Second Half Red Card

Behind late second half goals from Steven Sserwadda and O'Vonte Mullings, the New York Red Bulls II came back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Atlanta United II 2-1 at Montclair State University.

Due to thunderstorms, the match's start time was delayed 45 minutes from 7:00 PM to 7:45 PM. The turf at MSU Soccer Park drained well which allowed both teams to put an entertaining match together.

The starting lineup for the Baby Bulls featured four first team players. Wikelman Carmona and Caden Clark played on either wing while Sserwadda played central midfield and Daniel Edelman in the defensive midfield.

The Red Bulls II got off to a good start, when Carmona took a shot that whistled by the left post in the fifth minute. Then, ten minutes later, Daniel Edelman stepped into a shot from close that was blocked by an Atlanta United II defender.

Atlanta's offense got going in the 28th minute, forcing Giannis Nikopolidis to react quickly off his line to make a save. The Red Bulls started off the second half with two chances. The first was Caden Clark ripping a low shot that was saved in the center of the goal and the second involved Curtis Ofori taking a shot from the six-yard box that was also saved.

Atlanta United II had a really good chance in the 56th minute, when they sent a low cross that went across the face of goal where it came to the United player, who shot it off the cross bar and out. In the 64th minute, Atlanta United sent a long ball ahead for Luke Brennan, who was clipped from behind by Red Bull midfielder Michael Knapp and went down, just outside the Red Bulls box. The referee showed Knapp a straight red card which reduced their squad to ten men.

Two minutes later, Atlanta United II took the lead when Raimar finished inside the Red Bulls box. The Red Bulls II refused to give up after going down to ten men and stormed back in the 82nd minute. New Jersey native John Murphy sent a clever through ball up ahead to Sserwadda who ran on to the pass and curled a shot past the goalkeeper who was rushing out to grab the ball.

The goal was Sserwadda's second of the year and tied the game at 1-1. Then, at the very end of the game, Sserwadda had the ball deep in enemy territory. He crossed to the back post where the ball bounced and was finished first time by Mullings in what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Mullings game-winner was his first professional goal, and it was a special moment for the team. After the Baby Bulls took the lead, they cruised through stoppage time to their third win of the season.

Interim head coach Ibrahim Sekagya discussed how his team rebounded mentally after being reduced to ten men in the middle of the second half.

That’s where the team is, you can see the boys, they were coming together. They knew that we are a man down, but they were thinking about it and talked about it. We don’t have to think too much, we just have to keep to what we are doing, and you can see from 1-0 down a man, and then we push, that’s really something important.

For the second time in the last three matches, Ugandan international, Steven Sserwadda scored a goal and in this game, it was the crucial tying goal. Coach Sekagya, who is also from Uganda, described what Sserwadda continues to do for the team every night.

You can see when he’s on your team, he’s a good player, he gives energy to the team. To win the ball and then come inside for the goal and then the way how he finishes is fantastic. Steven is one of the players on our team that is so important.

However, only one Red Bulls II player scored the winning goal and that was Mullings. After the game, the Red Bulls right-back reflected on how he and his teammates were able to come from behind to win.

To win at home is always a beautiful thing, and the way we did it tonight, the guys showed a lot of character and resilience. We dug deep once we went down a man and we still got a goal, we got the first one. It was belief, belief from the beginning of the game and we had everything throughout the whole game.

This win was huge for the Red Bulls II's confidence, but they will have to move on from it quickly because their next game is against Charleston Battery FC on Aug. 12.

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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.