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Baby Blues beat Baby Bulls, advance in US Open Cup

New York City FC II progress to the Third Round behind a JJ Jimenez hat trick.

Take a bow, JJ | New York City FC II

On a rainy night at Belson Stadium, JJ Jimenez’s hat trick propelled New York City FC II to a Hudson River Derby Jr. victory over New York Red Bulls II— and punched their ticket to the Third Round of the US Open Cup.

The Baby Blues fielded a more experienced, talented, and expensive lineup than the one that shut down FC Motown 0-3 almost two weeks ago. Tonight, New York City’s multi-million dollar winter signing Augustín Ojeda headlined the Starting XI.


New York City FC II: 10 shots, 6 shots on target, 54% possession, 270 passes, 69% pass accuracy, 7 fouls, 6 saves

New York Red Bulls II: 16 shots, 9 shots on target, 46% possession, 182 passes, 58% pass accuracy, 12 fouls, 2 saves

• Red Bulls, Mohammed Sofo, 6'
• New York City, JJ Jimenez, 22'
• New York City, JJ Jimenez, 38'
• New York City, Malachi Jones, 45'
• Red Bulls, Serge Ngoma, 48'
• New York City, JJ Jimenez, 88' (pen)

Attendance: 719

Goalkeeper Tomás Romero and attacker Malachi Jones, two more winter additions, also started. Most of the II squad were regulars, with the exception of Jake Rozhansky, a 27-year-old who last featured for the New England Revolution II. There were no reports that New York City acquired Rozhansky, so his name on the starting team sheet came as a surprise.

On the flip side, Serge Ngoma headlined a Red Bulls II squad that consisted predominantly of MLS NEXT Pro players, a few of whom have featured for the first team.

New York City's lethal attack

The goal fest began early as Red Bulls II struck first after a Ngoma drive ended with Mohammed Sofo shooting a seemingly tame strike that nonetheless trickled through Romero’s legs, and gave the away side the lead in the sixth minute. It was the third time the Baby Blues conceded a goal within the first ten minutes of a match this season.

But it didn’t take NYCFC II long to strike back. In the 22nd minute, Christian McFarlane’s header fed JJ Jimenez through on goal. Jimenez dragged the ball around the keeper before slotting home his first of the night to even it at 1-1.
Jimenez finished in a similar style 17 minutes later as a sweet move on the last defender sent him through 1 v 1 on goal again. For the second time in the half, he rounded the keeper putting the Baby Blues up 2-1.

In end-to-end fashion, Red Bulls II came close to an equalizer through Roald Mitchell, whose strike hit the post in the 40th minute. Four minutes later, a combination between New York City’s Piero Elias and Tony Calheira allowed the ball to fall perfectly to Jones, who chipped the ball over the Red Bulls keeper to give the Baby Blues a commanding 3-1 lead at halftime.

Aside from the early goal and striking of the woodwork, NYCFC II dominated the first-half proceedings, notching 60% of possession with seven shots, five of which were on target compared to Red Bull’s five with three on target.

Romero's redemption

The visitors were fired up after the break, however, as an easy through ball to Ngoma set the highly-touted youngster up with an easy finish to bring Red Bulls II within one goal.

The second half continued to be dominated by Red Bulls II, and in the 62nd minute, it looked as if the visitors would equalize. Ngoma, who caused trouble for the City backline all night, capitalized on a poor Elias header, and ran into the box. A lazy boot from New York City defender Christopher Tiao compounded the mistake and took out Ngoma. The Red Bulls could have drawn the match even at three goals apiece. But in an act of redemption, Romero parried 16- year-old Julian Hall’s spot kick and protected New York City’s 3-2 lead.

Red Bulls II continued to search for the equalizer, but in the 85th minute, the contest was put to bed as a Calheira strike hit the hand of a Red Bull defender and the Baby Blues were awarded a penalty. Jimenez calmly sent the keeper the wrong way, both icing the game and notching his third of the night.

NYCFC II now accomplished what no NYCFC First Team has done, and knocked the Red Bulls out of the US Open Cup.

The tournament might be over for the Baby Bulls, but the two sides will play each other again in just eight days. The Red Bulls will once again cross state lines to go to Belson Stadium in Queens to face New York City in MLS NEXT Pro league play.