Red Bulls, New York Red Bulls

USL Championship Preview: Red Bulls II vs. Indy Eleven

At 7:00 PM (eastern), the New York Red Bulls II head to Carroll Stadium to play Indy Eleven for the first time since the 2019 USL Championship playoffs.

Now that May is here, the 2022 USL Championship season that will be Red Bulls II's last before moving on to MLS Next Pro, is in full swing. One look at their record 1-8-1 and you say it's been a tough year for the Red Bulls' farm team but remember something important-- the Red Bulls II develop players for the first team. 

In terms of how manager Gary Lewis has been developing a young team that includes six under the age of 18, there have been a few bright spots. The first is rookie right back O'Vonte Mullings who leads the team with three assists. Even though he is 22 years old, his progression to potential Major League Soccer (MLS) action is looking good right now.

The Baby Bulls recently lost 3-2 on the road at Hartford Athletic and scored two goals for the second time all season. This is a positive that shows a team that was shutout two games in a row leading up to their recent game is improving. One of the most exciting hot spots that erupted on May 14 was 16-year-old academy product, Ilia Tyrkus.

Tyrkus scored his first professional goal against Hartford and it was named the USL Championship Goal of the Week.

Here is what coach Lewis had to say about how his team has bonded on the road and included the players making coach Gary sing a song.

the atmosphere going to away games has been excellent, the feeling of being away and getting together. They were playing cards, and the equipment manager was sitting with them. It’s a good group, and I think ‘the innocence of youth’ sometimes but [even in bad times] they tend to bounce back pretty quickly.

Tyrkus has played in four of the Red Bulls II’s ten games this season and has managed to score his first goal in the USL Championship even though he is the youngest player on roster. However, Tyrkus is one of six Baby Bulls under the age of 18 on what is a squad dedicated to giving young players a chance against matured athletes.

Coach Lewis touched on what will be significant about this experience going forward for his young team

He’s been training well, I thought it was a good moment for him. Putting him in like that and to score a goal like that, they’re the moments you crave for as a coach, when a young player goes in and does that. They give me the goosebumps more than most things. It was a fantastic strike and a great moment for him.

For the New York Red Bulls II, the key to their season will involve developing their young players by playing more completely as a team. Putting in a total team effort that is mistake-free and involves the team dominating more would instill this young team with more confidence that they can win games. This in light of the Red Bulls' conceding a goal in the final ten minutes in their last home game against Sacramento Republic FC but like any mentally tough manager, Lewis just wants the Baby Bulls to keep moving forward.

I didn’t want to be a reactive coach but when they’re glaringly obvious, when its balls in behind us, back post goals. We’ve implemented the things that Gerhard wants.... We might put in the complete performance and lose by a goal, so that’s the complete performance although the outcome of the game wasn’t favorable.

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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.