It was a championship that promised little and still managed to under-deliver. New York Red Bulls II came out of the Eastern Conference with a potent combination of possession based football and strong play in defense. Swope Park Rangers came into the League Final on a wave of swashbuckling offense and sometimes questionable defense. Both teams were missing a few pieces. New York was without midfielder Devon “Speedy” Williams after being sent off against Louisville. Swope Park was without both Nansel Selbol and neither Tommy Meyer nor Ever Alvarado would make an appearance after being sent off in the 9 man win against Orange County Blues in the Conference Semis.
The game opened up back and forth between the 2 sides, with the first shot not coming until the 13th minute from none other than the hot handed Kris Tyrpak. The opening phase was a little cagey and was rife with fouls on both sides, with NYRBII garnering the lead in the 19th minute when Derrick Etienne got the ball from Brandon Allen and slid a right footed shot home. They nearly doubled their lead just moments later when Bezecourt barely missed from long distance. They got several more chances and finally grabbed their long due second, minutes from the half when Allen got onto the board himself when a cross from David Najem trickled past a few defenders and he slotted it home.
Swope Park came into the second half looking like a different team, and they registered several shots in the opening stanza. They finally clawed one back in the 75th minute when a free kick from 40 yards out after a Dan Metzger (NYRBII) foul found the back of the net. The failed to build on the momentum however and NYRB put things beyond all doubt when Brandon Allen got his second in the 86th minute. Allen secured his hat trick just 3 minutes after that when Bonomo slid him the ball at the center of the box. NYRBII added insult to injury when Bezecourt scored of an Etienne cross in injury time.
We all knew that the East was better on the year, and this result is not truly indicative of the disparity between the 2 conferences. The match, and much of the season for NYRB was characterized by ruthless execution and smart play. The game for Swope Park was littered with defensive gaffes and brain-neutral moments. It was hard to watch. There was 5,000 and some change on hand for the game (supposedly) and the director managed to frame a few shots with full seats, which means it wasn’t the end in terms of public image for the league, but the scoreline doesn’t reflect the competitive nature of the USL.
Thanks to all my readers for the season, it was a pleasure to bring you [non] partisan coverage of the rest of the league, hopefully it informed and entertained.