Who: Toronto FC II (0-0-0) vs. New York Red Bulls II (0-0-0)
When: Saturday, March 26 @ 3PM ET
Where: Red Bull Arena
Live Stream: tfc2.ca
TFC II in 2015: 6-17-5 NYRB II in 2015: 12-10-6
Toronto FC II kick off their second USL season on the road against New York Red Bulls II.
There have been many changes since the end of the 2015 season.
New signings Anthony Osorio, Malik Johnson, Martin Davis, Liam Fraser, Mitchell Taintor, and Brian James will fill in for the roles left by Daniel Fabrizi, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Emeka Ononye, Edwin Rivas, and Massimo Mirabelli, whose options were declined at the end of last season.
Osorio, Johnson, Davis, and Fraser all spent time with TFC II on loan last season from the Kia TFC Academy. Taintor and James, the 59th and 80th overall picks in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, were signed to USL contracts following an impressive preseason with both the first team and TFC II.
Also gone is the team’s leading scorer last season, Mo Babouli, who signed a first team contract back on March 5th.
Alex Bono and Chris Mannella are back with TFC II on loan from Toronto FC. Both spent significant time in the USL in 2015 and should be in the lineup come Saturday.
With Toronto FC on a bye week, there is a possibility that other first team players are sent down.
Jordan Hamilton did suit up for the Young Reds in the team’s final preseason match last Saturday against the Rochester Rhinos but will be absent, along with Fraser and Luca Uccello, as all three were called up to the U-20 Canadian men’s national team for a friendly against England on Sunday.
NYRB II was one of the top teams in the East last season, finishing fourth in the conference with an overall record of 12-10-6. They were knocked out of the playoffs in the conference semi-finals to eventual champions Rochester Rhinos.
Head Coach Jason Bent and his team are no strangers to the playing style of NYRB II. The two clubs met twice last season, with the Red Bulls II victorious in both matches.
On top of that, Bent has paid close attention to their first team to get a closer look at the high-press philosophy shared by NYRB II and their parent club.
It’s something he’s anticipating come Saturday.
“They’re a high-press team and they want to force turnovers in your defensive middle third, so I expect the same again,” Bent said following the team’s training session on Wednesday.
“We’ll make sure we have a game plan set for Saturday,” he added.
Players to Watch
Derrick Etienne. Etienne played in a total of 14 matches for NYRB II, notching three goals and three assists. He is signed to a first team contract, but is expected to be with NYRB II to start the season. Etienne is a typical winger: fast, skilled, and flashy. Whether playing on the left or right side of midfield, he’ll be a test for the TFC II defenders.
Stefano Bonomo. Bonomo, appeared in nine matches for NYRB II last season, tallying three goals and two assists. One of those goals came against TFC II. Both he and Etienne will be expected to carry the offense for Red Bulls II following the departures of Chris Tsonis, Marius Obekop, and Leo Stolz.
TFC II takes on New York Red Bulls II this Saturday, March 26 at Red Bull Arena at 3:00PM ET. Follow along on Twitter @TorontoFCII and watch the action via livestream at tfc2.ca