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NYCFC II Oppo Research: 5 Things about NYRB II

Daniel Rebain of Area Sports Net tells us why the Baby Bulls are confident of an away win tonight in the Hudson River Derby Jr.

NYRB II striker Roald Mitchell | Courtesy New York Red Bulls

In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Daniel Rebain of Area Sports Network to learn more about New York Red Bulls II, New York City FC II's opponent later tonight in the Second Round of the US Open Cup. The Baby Blues will face the Baby Bulls later at Belson Stadium in Queens: Here is your preview of the Open Cup edition of the Hudson River Derby Jr.

1. The Baby Bulls are at full strength

Hudson River Blue: The Red Bulls will have played three games in eight days by Tuesday night. How will that affect the team against NYCFC II?

Daniel Rebain: Personally, I don’t think playing this many games in a short period of time will affect the team. It helped the team get more into the groove of things in this early season.

Coach Sekagya agrees too. Red Bull has rotated certain positions in each of the team’s first four games, which helps almost everyone get into game shape. Depth was a question with certain new players still needing their visas approved and preseason injuries, but Red Bull has overcome those obstacles and is about 98% full strength coming into the derby.

2. An explosive front four

HRB: The Red Bulls have started the season strong, defeating Columbus Crew 2 and the Hudson Valley Hammers in the first round of the Open Cup. New York also defeated Inter Miami II on penalties, what has led to the impressive start to the 2024 season?

DR: Their offensive firepower in the front four! Whether it’s Ibrahim Kasule, Roald Mitchell, Mohammed Sofo, Julian Hall, or any of the other attackers on the bench, Red Bull can score goals in bunches.

It also helps that most of the team from the 2023 season has returned for 2024. Chemistry has been a big thing for Ibrahim Sekagya’s side this season. Everyone knows everyone’s tendencies and where they will be on the field when making certain passes. And the patent Red Bull press of course.

3. Ibrahim Kasule likes to score

HRB:  Ibrahim Kasule has three goals and two assists in three games, how will he be involved in the game once again on Tuesday?

DR: Kasule should have been a finalist for MVP last season. He was that good scoring 17 goals and having 7 assists. He was Red Bull II in 2023.

In 2024, he has only gotten better. Kasule is the only pure 10 on the roster and the offense flows through him whenever he’s on the pitch. If you concede a penalty, it will be a goal with Kasule 7/7 from the spot in his career in regulation. Kasule is the guy, if you don’t have two guys having an eye on him, you’re going to be in for a long game. Ibra should be on a first-team deal and probably will be sooner rather than later.

4. The X-Factor: Counter-pressing, and Roald Mitchell

HRB: What’s the X-factor that could decide this game?

DR: Red Bull’s counter-pressing.

RBII under Ibrahim Sekagya has brought a style to Next PRO that almost emulates the philosophies of Sandro Schwarz's team, but with his own twist. Red Bull II wants the ball as much as possible. So whenever they lose it in the attacking half, they’ll look for any chance to force a turnover whenever the opposition tries to play out the back. It’s worked for a year plus and expect it to be very effective.

The player X-factor is Roald Mitchell.

He's a big, physical, and athletic striker from Wake Forest via Red Bull Academy. Roald can beat you with his pace on a simple through ball, beat you in the air with his jumping prowess, or beat you off the dribble. He’s a complete striker that can make your night a living hell as we saw against Cincinnati II when he scored a brace, including the game-winning header in the 90th minute.

5. Predicted score, Starting XI

HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI? Final score?

DR: Red Bull only won one game against the Smurfs last season and will be out to turn the tide in 2024. With the first US Open game during the international break, so many first-team players were unavailable. Now with the first team healthy and internationals back, expect an XI close to what they had against Miami II.

Final score: 3-1 Red Bull II